In November 2023, an elephant calf became separated from his herd and ended up alone on a property outside Kruger National Park, with his mother and family nowhere in sight. Named Phabeni ("Shelter" in Sotho), the calf was brought to HERD elephant orphanage. He was estimated to be 4 months old and weighed 122kg. Phabeni endured small wounds and dehydration but is now on the road to recovery at HERD as he recovers physically and emotionally.
As a recently rescued orphan, Phabeni is at his most vulnerable. He needs to overcome the physical and emotional trauma of what he has been through. Our team is closely monitoring him to look out for any signs of ill health. During this crucial time, Phabeni's condition can take a turn for the worse at any moment, and we need to be prepared. As he is very young and milk-dependent, the team needs to adapt his milk formula to meet his individual needs at this fragile early stage.
HERD is South Africa's first dedicated elephant orphanage and provides a space where elephant calves that have been orphaned due to human actions can be rehabilitated. Orphaned calves receive the care they need to recover from the trauma they have experienced. They are given specially formulated milk, as they no longer have mothers they can suckle from. Over time, the calves are integrated into an elephant social structure - the Jabulani herd. This allows them to thrive and develop naturally.
Through HERD, orphaned elephants can heal and rejoin a social structure, which is essential for these social animals. They live in a reserve where they roam and forage naturally during the day. Every elephant matters. Every elephant needs a herd. HERD is working towards a long-term rewilding plan to relocate part of the Jabulani herd to a wild environment that is safe and suitable, without the threat of human-elephant conflict or human development.