Elephants are the main beneficiaries

Elephant CREW, or eleCREW, was formed in 2017 as a non-profit charitable trust.

The elephants were formerly owned by tourism operators for commercial tourism, engaged in elephant back safaris. In September 2017 the herd made their way by foot from their old home to the Jafuta reserve, a 3000-hectare haven of the African bush, state of the art facilities. This was under the guidance of animal welfare experts and the carers that are so well known to the elephants.

The origins of the eleCREW elephants

The nine elephants that live at the Jafuta reserve are the ‘'Ambassador Herd’ .

They range in age from approximately 20 years of age to 50, and came into human care for a variety of reasons such as drought or orphaned from poaching or culling operations. Thereafter, for almost their entire lives they were engaged in elephant back safaris. This practice ended in 2019 and eleCREW gave birth to the groundbreaking immersive, educational awareness program ‘Through the Eyes of an Elephant’.

The best future for these elephants

The core reason that eleCREW was formed is to explore options for the best long term care and well being of the individual elephants under the charity’s care.

Release into the wild was considered. However, many releases of elephants from similar situations and lifetime experience have tragically gone wrong. Elephants that have relied upon and developed close bonds with humans are often ill-equipped to face the scale and variety of challenges that free-roaming elephants face today. Release into ‘the wild’ is only appropriate for specific individuals. Such as Magoti, who chose to join a passing wild herd and to date has been successfully adopted. We monitor her carefully through a satellite collar to ensure she remains safe and happily with this herd.

Taking the expert advice

Having found a new home at Jafuta ideally suitable to the natural needs of African elephants, a number of experts were engaged.

Ecologists advised on the availability of browse and the elephants’ effect on the local environment. Ethologists (animal behaviour experts) advised on the elephants social dynamics and mental needs. Animal educational psychologists advised on cooperative teaching and emotional needs, welfare scientists and wildlife veterinarians advised on how to give these animals the best care possible whilst interacting with their human carers safely and humanely. This is all to ensure they have a high quality of life.

Taking the expert advice

However, all of this comes at a cost, and in uncertain economic and ecological times, a sustainable way forward must be found.

The challenge for eleCREW is to create unique, safe and inspiring educational experiences that visitors, local communities and the elephants can enjoy and learn from. Donations from visitors fund the high quality of care and research into how to provide a better life for our beloved pachyderms. We focus on providing for their mental and emotional needs as well as giving excellent health care, a balanced diet and security.

eleCREW Strategic Model

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”