Meet Elephant Carer – Joshua Dube

Our elephant carers at HESC work together as a team, to look after the orphaned elephants at our centre. They also work with the Camp Jabulani Herd and team, but through the years, we have seen the strength and knowledge of certain individuals, that prove they are the most suited to work with orphaned elephants.
Joshua Dube is a fine example and this. He is so passionate about elephants, and has been working with them for over thirty years now. Since 1987, to be exact.

Mopane and Joshua playing
Mopane and Joshua playing

His experience with elephants started in Zimbabwe, where he is originally from. Fifteen years later, in 2002, he found himself in South Africa, after Lente Roode, founder of HESC, rescued an entire herd of elephants from Zimbabwe that were facing certain death. But she did not take on just the herd, she took on the financial responsibility of their carers too, one of whom was Joshua.
Lente Roode with Joshua in 2002.
Lente Roode with Joshua in 2002.

In 2005, Camp Jabulani was built to sustain the elephant herd, and Joshua has been part of the team there, ever since, and is officially, a “Senior Elephant Carer.” When HESC needs assistance with a young or orphaned elephant he is part of the team we call on.
Joshua with orphaned elephant Mopane, having a special moment
Joshua with Mopane, having a special moment

Joshua has a wife and 6 children, most of whom are still living in Zimbabwe. So on his time off he goes to visit them. But he says he misses the elephants very quickly when he is away.  When home, he helps his wife and family tend to the crops on their land.
His one son, Emanuel, works at Camp Jabulani too, as he grew up with elephants, spending time with his father, and learned about them from a very young age. So when a position came available in 2009, he joined the team, to follow in his dad’s footsteps. They have a wonderful bond.
Joshua with his son, Emanuel, both elephant carers
Joshua with his son, Emanuel

Joshua favourite experiences over the years, has been in the caring of orphaned elephants, and the introduction of them to existing herds. He says that every single young elephant is so different to the next, it is never the same, and you can never be complacent. You learn with every elephant you encounter. They have a very good memory and respond to kindness, but are also very kind animals in return. The older and bigger they get, the more and better they understand, and that is wonderful for him to see grow.
Orphaned elephant Mopane, with his carer, Joshua
Joshua spending time with Mopane

Currently he is spending a lot of time with Mopane, and is really great at teaching him much needed functionalities of his body, through play and exercise.


This is just a little insight, into a man with a big heart!
We are grateful for all his hard work and dedication to the elephants in our care.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Tracy Allen

    Joshua thank you for your many years of service helping these elephants. They are such beautiful animals. It’s nice to see your son following in your footsteps too!

    1. HESC

      Hello Tracy, thank you for the comment about Joshua. He is a father-figure to many more, than just his own family!

  2. HESC

    Hi Amanda, thanks for the question. Mrs Roode was contacted by a gent who was running the elephant back safari operation in Zimababwe, who knew his elephants were in direct danger, and threatened. Mrs Roode had to get the government involved, of course, and then got vehicles from South Africa, over the border to fetch the elephants, with their carers travelling with them. It was a massive undertaking. At the same time, Jabulani a rescued elephant, (who was abandoned by his herd after numerous attempts to get him out of a mud pool), had been with the centre for approximately 4 years, and was getting big, and needing other elephant interaction, as he did not adapt or want to go back into the wild after he had been rescued.
    So it was an opportunity to try see if the herd would at the same time, take another elephant into their family. And fortunately they did. And now it is 16 years later! The lodge was built to sustain them, and has been in operation since 2005, where the elephant stables are based.
    I hope that gives you some deeper understanding of the timeline and story, in a very brief summary. Thank you for caring..

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