Conservation In Victoria Falls
A Brief History Of The Elephant Sanctuary & Orphanage
World Elephant Day is dedicated to honouring elephants and spreading awareness about this keystone species.
This is something we strive to do at a grassroots level, and annually, over 1000 visit the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust to meet the resident herds.
We want to inspire the next generations to be guardians of our wild spaces and wildlife.
Earlier this year, we wrote a poem for a very special young girl who shares our love for elephants, outlining how the sanctuary came to be and why aspiring conservations such as herself will not only change the world but save it.
An Ode To Elephants
Surrounded by wilderness and an endless sense of space.
When I glanced down at the river, I spotted five elephant
Smangaliso is covered in mud, and totally in her element.
This will be the first of many story-filled letters
That document her life and her many adventures.
However, as I look around at this incredible sanctuary,
I know that first, we must start with a bit of history
As the only reason I can sit before this wonderful view,
Is because of the kindness and compassion of people like you.
Many years ago, there was a terrible drought
Tree leaves turned to dust as the water dried out.
Soon the earth was cracked, the wilderness barren and brown,
Slowly elephant herds began to break down.
Calves were malnourished, left orphaned and alone
They were in desperate need of a loving home.
Our passion for conservation gave us the drive and courage
To create a safe haven, an Elephant Sanctuary & Orphanage.
Four young elephants arrived and we worked around the clock
To nurture Miz Ele, Jack, Jumbo and Jock.
We have cared for orphans and those injured or exiled
Acting as their stepping stone back into the wild
Of the founding four, just one remains
Still traversing the expansive terrain
And if you go to the sanctuary today
Your gaze would find Jumbo straight away
He is with his new herd and his mate Ntombi
Between them is Smangaliso (for short we call her Mimi)
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 quick to respond to commands and very intelligent. She is quite skittish and doesn’t like anything small running around her or any quick movements. Janet also 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! Izibulo is a very intelligent elephant. He also loves people and accepts all the keepers 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 dislikes water. He won’t bathe – Jake only wets behind his ears and will put some mud on his head. In 2003 Jake 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, giving him the medication in pill form – this entailed 300 tablets in the morning and the evening, which we would hide in oranges to give to him. He recovered and gained back his weight – we are delighted to have him healthy again!
Jock (Born 1984)
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. Jock eats A LOT and is nicknamed “Piggy”. Jock hardly sleeps, but rather 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; 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. Despite this she is a slow eater 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 apart. 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.
Jumbo is the tallest of all of the elephants – his large size comes a large appetite. Jumbo 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!