Founded as a cheetah-breeding project in 1989, HESC soon realised that its infrastructure and facilities could be used to rehabilitate and care for injured, orphaned and traumatised animals. With the establishment of a dedicated veterinary facility in 1995, capacity for such activities has been increased.
HESC has accepted and rescued a wide variety of animals over the years. Although many such animals have been released to the wild, some will unfortunately remain at the centre for the rest of their lives. Deemed too traumatised or ‘unfit’ to be released to the wild (by our veterinary team and advisors) these animals represent an enormous commitment by the centre.
Jabulani the elephant, namesake of HESC’s sister property Camp Jabulani, was abandoned and left orphaned at the tender age of four months, and was hand-reared by Lente Roode and the team at HESC. When another 12 Zimbabwean elephants in need of rescue arrived at HESC, Jabulani found his kin and was adopted by the herd. Taking care of 13 elephants was simply too much to shoulder and Camp Jabulani was born to enable visitors to interact with the elephants in a five star luxury lodge – sustaining the animals in the process.
Another example of animals in need of rehabilitation is a pair of ex-circus lions from Portugal, which were saved by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and accepted by HESC. A common practice among lion ‘tamers’, the animals’ claws where cruelly removed and the male, Caesar, was castrated. As a result, Caesar and Sarah would never stand a fair chance of survival in the wild. Never even having experienced grass beneath their feet, their introduction to HESC alone seemed to be an overwhelming experience. Sadly Sarah has since passed away, but Caesar remains at the centre and lives peacefully in a sizable area of the South African bushveld. Well into his old age, Caesar also receives frequent veterinary attention for the debilitating arthritis that he suffers – natural at his age.
HESC has also undertaken the challenge of caring for victims of rhino poaching. This has cumulated in the launch of the Rescued Rhinos @ HESC project. This project aims to assist in the rehabilitation and reintroduction of orphaned and injured rhinos to the wild, as well as raising awareness for the plight of the species. The project has already been successful with the effective treatment of three brutally dehorned rhino cows (Dingle Dell, Lion’s Den and Philippa) and the raising of a further four orphaned calves (Gertjie, Matimba, Stompie and Balu).