With South Africa currently on a national lockdown and everything except for essential services have ceased all operations. Staff at Jabulani safari lodge, remain working around the clock.

The Jabulani Herd is a family group of fifteen elephants with thirty carers. According to the Jabulani website:

‘Each elephant has a distinctive characteristic and shares a unique bond with the rest of the group.’


Jabulani pioneered the first-ever elephant orphanage in South Africa called HERD: Hoedspruit Elephant Rehabilitation and Development. Their facility provides orphaned and destitute elephants with a second chance at living a full and natural life. It gives these vulnerable animals the chance to live within the family bonds of another herd.



The orphanage essentially provides ‘a unique adoptive family structure for baby elephants in need,’ says HERD’s website.

The orphanage is situated next door to the Jabulani Herd stables. Orphans are introduced into the herd based on their individual emotional profile and as most of the Jabulani Herd are orphans themselves, they accept others into their herd quite seamlessly.



In January, a rare addition to the orphanage was an albino elephant calf, named Khanyisa. The calf was found trapped in a hunting snare and severely injured. Her efforts at freeing herself only caused the snare to pull tighter.

In a statement, HERD said: 

‘This little girl is so unbelievably brave. The odds of her survival have been stacked against her from birth; she was born as an albino, she then endured excruciating pain trapped in the jaws of a manmade snare, and left to fight for her fragile life for an unknown amount of days. We can only try to comprehend the amount of pain she felt, how scared she felt, was her herd with her when it happened, was she alone? And how hot and thirsty she must have been. How could she possibly survive?

It is clear to us now; it is her spirit; she is a fighter. Her spirit is strong.’



Since being rescued, Khanyisa has flourished under the care of HERD, where she is take out on excursions with her back covered by a blanket to protect her skin from the sun.



The herd’s founding elephant, a big bull named Jabulani met Khanyisa on Sunday, 29 March as part of the integration process. In a Facebook post, the organisaiton said:

‘Khanyisa was following Adine around in the morning at HERD, as she likes to do. Adine needed to visit the Jabulani herd, so she stepped out of the nursery to see the elephants in the bush, but Khanyisa wanted to be by her side. Adine returned to the stables and took Jabulani with her and then opened for Khanyisa to come inside. As Adine headed to the stables, Khanyisa followed after her and then the moment came… Jabulani and Khanyisa, no barriers, touching trunks.

Khanyisa is still at times apprehensive with these new sights and smells, but she was much more relaxed today in the stables than ever before. After meeting with Jabulani, Khanyisa headed off to help Adine clean, joyously attacking a lucern bale, playing with a branch and eating dung. The tractor was moving around her and she continued to play and go back to Adine for reassurance once in a while. She is more relaxed with the carers in the stables too.

We have changed her milk as she continues to grow and we are happy to say that she has no side effects or diarrhea. Even with the new routines, meaning that she isn’t under stress.’



Here is a video of the heartwarming interaction:

The selfless work that the carers are doing to help Khanyisa not only survive but to join a new herd is commendable.