Adventures with Elephant's story begins several decades ago in Zimbabwe through our father Rory Hensman. His interest and love for wildlife began on the family farm where as a child he was surrounded by all kinds of animals from dogs and ponies to countless animals (wild and orphaned) and birds. As an adult he had the foresight to convert one of the family's commercial farms into a game reserve where we, his children could grow up to also enjoy wildlife.
In 1988 Rory obtained two young orphaned elephant from the necessary culling operations taking place in the Zambezi valley, with the aim of releasing them onto his game farm. When Jumbo and Miss Ellie arrived Rory realised that they were far too small to be released and so kept the elephants in a boma.
He soon realised that there was a lot more to these animals than he had originally anticipated and understood that they wanted to be a part of the farm's daily life. Within a few weeks of arriving Jumbo and Miss Ellie were following a handler around the farm, responding to their names and listening to basic commands. And so it all began, Jumbo and Miss Ellie joined Hoggles the warthog, Nelson the kudu, Thika the serval, Didi the steenbok and others and became part of the menagerie of orphaned animals that found their way into the Hensman household. In 1992, Rory met and married Lindie in 1993, who rode in on Miss Ellie at their wedding ceremony on the farm.
Rory decided to keep the elephants and as time went on he was given more and more ‘problem’ and orphaned elephant. He was soon confounding the critics by taming and training these animals to willingly do various farm tasks such as rounding up and dipping cattle, checking farm fences and conducting anti-poaching patrols.
In the early 1990's poaching was already problematic and Rory accepted to conduct anti-poaching operations with National Parks in the Zambezi Valley. The elephants could be used to carry rangers to otherwise inaccessible terrain where they could follow poachers day and night, all year round, using their sense of smell.
In 1994 when the next-door farm was burgled the elephant followed the trail left by the thieves for 4 kilometres. 12 hours after the burglarly they were able to lead the police to where the loot had been stored. The police obtained shoeprints and fingerprints which subsequently lead to arrests.
Soon neighbours began delivering unmanageable elephants from other farms. Our family trained them all and delivered the best-mannered to friends at Victoria Falls to begin an elephant safari camp.
In 2002 tragedy struck when Rory was forcibly removed by Robert Mugabe from his farms in Zimbabwe along with many other Zimbabwean farmers. Rory moved his family, his handlers and his elephants to Kapama Game Reserve in South Africa to start a new life. In September 2003, an elephant fund called Elephants for Africa Forever (Pty) Ltd (EFAF) was established to assist in research projects. These range from using chill peppers to deter elephants from raiding crops, to elephant contraception and vaccines to help curb bulls in musth.
Adventures with Elephants was opened in 2010. We have had the honour of educating over 15000 guests a year, in the marvels of the African elephant. All of the elephant at EFAF destinations are elephant that were considered ‘problem elephants’ and as such were going to be destroyed. Problem elephant are elephant that over populate and have a negative impact on the environment and other wildlife, or elephant that caused damage to property (Human Elephant Conflict) or to other wildlife. Tembo our largest elephant caused R1 Million worth of damage to a game reserve in six months, he turned over vehicles, killed rhino and buffalo and broke into buildings. Instead of destroying these animals, we have brought them in and tamed them for educational hands-on interactions.
Elephants have been our life since 1988 and we are proud to have the privilege of working with them.
Director, Elephants For Africa Forever (EFAF) and Managing Director at AWE.
Sean graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, UK with a BA / BSC in Tourism and Leisure with Business Management. His aim was then, and is now, to develop a tourism product that promotes educational values as well as conservation values in a holistic manner. Sean believes that there are many things to learn from elephants and has actively pursued research in various fields from the uses of elephants as bio-detectors (for tracking criminals to finding landmines and drugs) to communication and Human Elephant Conflict Resolutions. He currently resides at AWE in Bela Bela, South Africa.
Jenna Hensman, wife of Sean Hensman
Joseph Kamupambe, Senior Groom
Jerico Kanobvurunga, Groom
Llewellyn Lloyd, Assistant Manager
Lawrence Maako, Groom
Muchaneta Magiriva, Farm Assistant
Edward Matipane, Groom
Phillip Ngwenya, Maintenance Manager
Weekend Nyakwete, Groom
Cloudie Nyamasoka, Administration Manager
Sydney Pondamare, Groom
Thabo Ramashia, Groom
Nicky Rasekwgalo, Groom
Roschelle kyd, Marketing
Many of our staff have a long history with the Hensman family and crossed the border with us and our elephant when political pressure in Zimbabwe forced a move to South Africa. Our grooms and elephant handlers are key to the well-being of our elephants and to the safety of your visit.
If you'd like to show a little extra appreciation, you are welcome to make a donation for the grooms here. (Please make sure to clearly mark your donation). We know that they do a great job of telling the stories of our mighty elephants and inspiring you to also become ambassadors for wildlife in Africa.