Community & Conservation
The Elephant Camp’s Eco-initiatives
The Elephant Camp emerges from the plains of incredible natural wonder, where lives a diverse species of plants and animals that generously allow us to immerse ourselves in the raw beauty of their home. In turn, we cherish and protect the natural wonders, resources, and history that encompasses the camp.
We have borrowed this land from the elephant, impala, birds and buffalo and we are dedicated to treading as lightly as possible on their beautiful patch of earth. Our conservation efforts include, but are not limited to:
Grey Water Use.
In line with our minimal waste philosophy, we use grey water for irrigation at The Elephant Camp, notably on our indigenous tree nursery.
Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage
In 1992, four elephants fondly known as “Jock”, “Jack”, “Jumbo “and “Miz Ellie” were in desperate need of a new home. They were orphans from a culling operation in Hwange National Park in 1980 and had outgrown their temporary home on a small farm in Zimbabwe.
With an uncontested, unwavering conservation ethic, Wild Horizons was identified as an ideal candidate to create a facility that would enhance the lives of the founding four elephants and provide a space for other elephants in need of care. The Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage was established, and has been a safe haven to a mirage of orphaned and injured elephants since its conception.
We strongly believe that ultimately the best environment for all elephant is in the wild and we strive to ensure that as many animals as possible return to a wild environment. That said, habituation forms a meaningful obstacle to many successful releases, with few wild areas being available where elephants cannot seek out human contact.
At Wild Horizons the elephant’s welfare and well-being has always taken precedence and the elephant keepers have been equipped with expansive training and knowledge to ensure dignified treatment of the animals at all time.
The sun seems to blaze brighter over Africa than anywhere else in the world. Our solar water heating systems harness the energy provided by the sun and allow the camp to be partially run by this natural power house.
Indigenous Tree Planting Program.
It takes some trees as many as 30 years to grow, yet it takes a matter of minutes to bring them crashing down. Uncontrolled harvesting of trees for firewood and carving has robbed the land of many of these vital life-giving sources. In an effort to combat this worldwide phenomenon, The Elephant Camp has created an indigenous tree nursery. The seeds of indigenous trees are nurtured until they are well established enough to be transported to areas in need of rehabilitation.
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”
Organic Vegetable Garden.
Beneath the topsoil that hundreds of hooves have crossed over lies a wealth of rich nutrients. The flavourful vegetables and the fragrant herbs that we incorporate into the menu have been nurtured in our garden and are free from any chemicals or pesticides. The only food miles these ingredients experience is the short walk from patch to plate. .
In order to ensure sustained and effective conservation, community involvement is essential. Wild Horizons works closely with the local community, pooling our knowledge with theirs, to create projects which maximise environmental awareness. We are a rich nation because we live in an environment of invaluable natural capital and this natural capital needs to be conserved with our collective efforts. Social responsibility is an integral part of life in Victoria Falls. Logistically and financially, Wild Horizons supports many initiatives in the region, including:
In the animal kingdom, every species has a role to play, from the looming elephant that brush past the trees, to the small worms that wriggle at their roots. The different groups work together to keep the earth alive in a way that humans struggle to do. Elephants digest very little of their food, and their dung is full of vitamins, fibre and minerals. Accompanied by a side of plant waste from the kitchens, this nutrient rich feast allows our worms to create valuable compost. The compost is fed to the organic garden, and so the cycle continues.
Biological Monitoring and Erosion Control.
Bi-annually, a qualified Environmental Officer visits the camp to monitor the biology of the Wild Horizons Wildlife Sanctuary. Surveys are conducted on our resident orphaned elephant herd and the other wildlife that live within the sanctuary, so that their impact can be monitored and adjusted to lessen environmental pressure. Greedy alien vegetation is eradicated and soil erosion is carefully managed, both within the reserve and in neighbouring communal areas.
The Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage has been a safe-haven to a myriad of orphaned and injured elephants since its conception in 1992. Whilst hand rearing these orphans we have come to understand that the best way to appreciate these magnificent creatures is to watch them living wildly and freely.
Janet (Born 1986)
Jake, Emily, Janet, Michael and Damiano came from the Zambezi valley cull. They were moved from Dombowire Game Park, Bindura to Braeside on November 24, 1998. A year later Damiano, Jake and Michael came to The Elephant Camp on July 24, 1999. In 2000 Emily and Janet followed the boys to The Elephant Camp.
Janet is very skittish and doesn’t like anything small running around her or any quick movements. Very quick to respond to commands and she is very intelligent. She doesn’t like having other females in her herd and only accepts Emily.
Isibulo (Born 2004)
Emily was covered by a wild elephant that followed her for two weeks and then actually broke into the stable and took her out ‘on a date’. This led to the birth of Izibulo (meaning “ firstborn”). Izibulo didn’t suckle for the first 11 hours after his birth as new mom Emily didn’t know to move her leg forward to expose her teat. We were all in such a state we ran around looking for a breast pump. We eventually found one and managed to extract milk to feed Izibulo. Of course as soon as we did this Emily stretched her leg forward, exposing her nipple and izibulo started suckling! He is very intelligent. He also loves people and accepts all handlers with no problem. Even Janet who hasn’t liked any babies or orphans accepts him.
Jake (Born 1985)
Jake is an early sleeper and riser and is known to be up before anyone else! Despite his size Jake is fairly timid and doesn’t like water. He won’t bathe but only wets behind his ears and will put some mud on his head. In 2003 he was very ill with a liver problem and needed many injections – these were administered in the veins in his lower back legs – ever since then he has not liked people going behind him. We eventually had to change to giving him the medication in pill form – this entailed 300 tablets morning and evening which we would hide in oranges to give him. He recovered and gained back his weight and we are delighted to have him healthy.
Jock (Born 19??)
Jock originated from Mana Pools, Zambezi and was orphaned as a result of the 1988 Zambezi Valley cull. Jock has splayed tusks and dimples in his forehead. He is smart and gentle and known for being laid back, cautious and slow moving. Eats A LOT and is nicknamed “Piggy”. He also hardly sleeps but dozes on his feet, leaning against a tree in a paddock. Jock has a narrow trunk tip and likes to use his trunk as a ‘hoover’ to suck pellets up into his trunk so that he can take more at once because of this. In 1999 Jock fell through a warthog burrow that collapsed under his weight and now he is still very scared of any holes or piles of sand due to the fright he got!
Emily (Born 1986)
Emily is left-handed and her right tusk is especially long. She is a fast moving elephant on walks. Despite this she is a slow feeder and often falls behind because of this – perhaps that’s why she has learnt to walk so fast – she has to catch up! Emily is known for her easy-going nature. Emily and Janet are very close one can say “joined at the hip”. They are almost never seen one without the other. Emily was covered by a wild elephant that followed her for two weeks and then actually broke into the stable and took her out ‘on a date’. This led to the birth of Izibulo.
‘Uncle’ Jumbo (Born 1983)
Jumbo has distinctive twisted and uneven tusks and always appears healthy and fat. Jumbo is known as an especially intelligent elephant by his keepers. He loves to scratch his back on foliage.
He is the tallest of the elephants and his large size comes a large appetite – he is known to steal food from those around him and if you are eating next to him in the stable you better watch your food! He also loves his sleep and is an early sleeper and late riser- we often find him still sleeping when everyone else is up and about!
At The Elephant Camp, guests can appreciate the serenity and tranquillity of the African bush, yet remain in close range to the variety of attractions and activities that the town has to offer.