Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation & Development
With the growing numbers of orphans and displaced elephant calves in recent years, due to rampant poaching of elephant mothers as well as human-elephant conflict, Adine Roode, HERD Founder, took the step to build an elephant orphanage in South Africa, to provide an adoptive family structure for calves in need.
The HERD Orphanage was built in 2019 in response to a growing number of young orphaned elephant calves that need a place of rehabilitation and more importantly, an existing herd that will accept them unconditionally.
The Jabulani Herd is now a family of 16 elephants, of which 11 are orphans and five that were born to the herd over 10 years ago. In 2004 the lodge, Jabulani, was built to sustain the herd, with proceeds from tourism assisting with the care and management of the rescued herd.
In 2021 a decision was made to move the Jabulani herd and the HERD Homestead operations (formally known as the Jabulani stables) together with the HERD Orphanage, under the umbrella of the HERD Trust which is a registered PBO Number 930072153. This allows for public funding to ensure the well-being of all the elephants.
The HERD Trust also commits to being active within our local communities through education and awareness, as well as our online communities, bringing a global audience together to educate a larger audience about the elephant species and the essential conservation efforts undertaken by various organisations around the world.
It is our mission through HERD (Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development), South Africa's first and only dedicated elephant orphanage, to rehabilitate orphaned elephants from the traumatic or near-fatal challenges that have caused them to be abandoned. It is our mission to give them a second chance of life with a herd, as the social and complex nature of the species requires that they live within a herd for their own wellbeing.
Our objectives are to provide a safe rehabilitation alternative for elephant orphans that prioritises the long-term well-being of the elephants. To establish a strategy and long-term plan for elephant rehabilitation through rewilding that includes ways to mitigate the long-term chronic stress of releasing elephants directly into the wild when, as orphans, they don't have a proper social structure. The focus is on building the orphans' ability to deal with a wild system independently, in such a way that allows them to develop that capacity at a reasonable pace, and within a stable and nurturing system. Thus, the rewilding of captive elephants that takes elephant biology and local context into account.
Our principals underpinning the approach:
a. Emphasis and focus on the rehabilitation and rewilding as both short and long-term objectives, that considers the social and sentient nature of elephants, their longevity, and the need for their learning and social development to take place in a protective, nurturing, and safe context and environment.
b. Take into account the importance of social learning, bonding, and role building for orphans by creating a novel system of responsibly wilding or reintegrating elephants.
c. It is unethical to simply release orphans into the wild without the opportunity for them to develop a robust social decision-making and behavioural system, within a structured support system, that people can, and have the obligation to, provide.
d. Creating sustainable wellbeing for orphan elephants, responsible and transparent mechanisms to support direct costs attached to handraising and caring of elephants, and the herd into which they will be introduced, and which is engaged with broader society.
e. Run an ethical, accredited, and credible operation, with a fully constituted ethics committee, and with an advisory committee with the appropriate expertise.
f. Recognize the existence value of elephants for broader society, and to take on the custodianship role (all animals are under the custodianship of all people), on behalf of broader society, so that people know that animals are being protected and supported in an ethical way that gives people a sense of humaneness and humanity - this is one of our global values.
g. Based on a long-term strategy for rewilding of orphan elephants that enhances wellbeing, and takes into consideration their longevity, and the long-term responsibility that we collectively have as a society to caring for orphaned elephants through their entire lifetime.
h. Enhance and expand the contribution of elephants to human social and economic development, and human livelihoods and wellbeing, especially in the local region.
i. Not causing unnecessary suffering or harm;
j. There is no breeding of captive elephants.
k. New orphans increase the wellbeing of the Jabulani elephant herd by improving the social structure of the herd, and providing the conditions for natural social interactions and processes.
l. Introduction of calves can play a positive role in the emotional wellbeing and behaviour of the Jabulani herd, and the herd provides the most humane mechanism to reintegrate orphans into elephant society that is available.
m. There is no promoting the removal of any babies from the wild.
n. It is not the first choice to have captive elephants, and we understand the risks posed by the complex social nature of elephants.
o. There are clear specific criteria for taking orphans for rehabilitation, such as when orphans are the direct consequence of human interference and human created problems, such as poaching.
p. Elephants are only accepted as a results of confiscation, donation, or rescue and approved by, official government agencies. All orphans accepted are properly permitted.
q. We do not promote, base, or drive the operation on creating a market for orphans. Orphans are accepted in the interests of the orphans, as such, and not to have any resale value.
r. The Jabulani herd was rescued from a perilous situation, and are being provided with a protected and comfortable environment, that meets their biological and social requirements within the limitations of a previously tamed herd.
s. The commitment to the Jabulani herd is to ensure their wellbeing for their natural lives.