His jovial face and beaming smile, makes Israel Shambira a very hard person to forget. That paired with his undeniable passion for his work, makes him a real asset to our orphaned elephant care team.
Israel adores every minute that he has, caring for Mopane. He stresses how important it is to have a close connection to a baby elephant and for them to have constant love surrounding them, with sincere connections, because he says they get depressed, very quickly if they are alone.
His favourite time of the day is early morning walks from 6am to 9am, as it is through the walks and time spent out in the bush, that he is able to encourage and see his development taking place. He says Mopane learns a lot from his companionship with Lammie the sheep too.
Watching the two of them spend time together is really heartwarming. It is clear they are very fond of one another, and have a deep connection. Israel is so incredibly patient and encouraging of his development, and no doubt adds a great deal to the success of Mopane’s day to day progression.
Israel’s experience with elephants started in 1996, twenty two years ago, in northern Zimbabwe, his place of birth. He was originally a builder by trade, and has fate had it, he did a building project in the close vicinity to elephants. He found being around them quite fascinating.
Upon completion of the building project, he enquired about the possibility of working with the elephants, and he was soon hired and started training in how to understand and work with them. And so his journey with gentle giants began.
Sadly, six years later, the herd that he was working with, were threatened by the war veterans of Zimbabwe, during the land reform which intensified in 2002. The owner of the elephants made contact with Lente Roode of HESC, to please consider rescuing the elephants before they would surely be killed. Mrs Roode stepped in immediately, also taking on the added responsibility of their carers too, as the elephants, all orphans themselves, had been with humans all their life.
Israel left for South Africa with the herd, leaving his wife and seven children behind, for greener pastures, and new hope for the elephants. It was a hard decision, but he was dedicated to his work, and he was the sole provider for his family. He would return every six weeks to be with them for a couple of weeks at a time.
He has been working with HESC ever since. He is based with the herd at Camp Jabulani, (which was consequently built by Mrs Roode, a few years after the herd arrived, to sustain them financially), which is about 45 minutes drive away from HESC. But together with a handful of other senior elephant carers, Joshua, Stavros, Simba and Herman; they take shifts in giving care to orphaned elephant Mopane.
Stavros, one of Mopane’s other elephant carers is Israel’s closest friend. They started with working with elephants together in Zimbabwe, and have walked every step of this path together!
We could not ask for more dedicated individuals, than Israel, Stavros, Joshua, Simba and Herman. Mopane is in very experienced and loving hands.
If you would like to contribute to the daily costs of Mopane, we would be forever grateful. We rely on public donations to look after him.
Please go to www.help.hesc.co.za to donate.