The Team

‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’




Having spent all his life living, playing, studying and working with animals of many different species, Jake is keen to ensure that humans and mammals foster mutually beneficial relationships. He says ‘Conservation is about the species and welfare is about the individual’. It is important that by understanding the needs and desires of the individual we can provide for the species. The elephant CREW vision is particularly exciting to me as we are transforming the lives of individual elephants for the benefit of themselves and wider conservation goals. It is important that we do this in a sensitive and sustainable way that adds to scientific knowledge and pioneers solutions for the future.’


Gerald started out as an elephant guide back in 1995. He has worked at many different elephant facilities and has a Zimbabwean learner guide license and Zambia professional guide license. Like all those who work directly with the elephants at eleCREW he has completed a first level course in Co-operative Teaching, humane application of learning theory and teaching techniques. This is experience gives him unique insight into the world of an elephant and such he is our key elephant interpreter. His job is also to ensure the welfare and safety of the elephants and their handlers, day to day management of feed, veterinary care and elephant housing. The trait that Gerald likes most about elephants is that they form close family bonds and are very faithful.


Benjamin has been working with elephants for over 20 years. He has a gentle manner and is always reassuring to the elephants when he is with them. He has responsibility for all of the elephants and handlers and he knows them all better than anyone else. Especially Doma, having been with him since Benjamin was a teenager and Doma was about 5 years old. The part that Benjamin likes most about working with elephants are the teaching sessions.
‘They are so good during teaching sessions and very clever at learning new skills. Changing to our new methods of cooperative teaching has the elephants listening better and they are calmer.’


Klaus has been working with elephants for just over 4 years, working your way up from a stable hand. He, like all the other handlers here at Jafuta has expanded his knowledge through doing our workshop in Cooperative Teaching. Kluas’s thoughtful nature also make him an excellent elephant interpreter and presenter.
‘Working with elephants always brings a new challenge and it is a learning experience every day. With the new teaching methods we are using there is more of a dialogue with the elephants than the old methods.’


Monica has been working in the wildlife and safari industry for 23 years, 13 of which has been based at Jafuta. She has intimate local knowledge and is well liked both by our Jafuta community and surrounding local villages. Her main interest is human wildlife conflict (HWC) mitigation Initiatives on community livelihoods and she has just completed a degree in this area.
‘I would like to share my knowledge on mitigation initiatives to the growing [local] population.’


Heritage has been with the herd since 2005, when he came in as a banna grass (elephant grass or napier grass – the elephants love this stuff!) attendant. Cooperative teaching has equipped him with knowledge to observe how smart an elephant can be and discover hidden behaviours. Handling and teaching keep elephants calm. Heritage is well loved and well respected by all the elephants and carers alike.
‘I love them all its difficult to choose especially now that i have worked with them for the longest time.’


Tizhani has been with the herd since 2013 when he came in as a stable hand. Cooperative teaching has created a bond between him and the elephants. He have realised that handling and teaching help me to know the elephants better. Tizhani also holds the important role of safety officer – which is very mush tied to elephant welfare, ‘a happy elephant is a safe elephant’!
‘I like all elephants because they have a relationship with me humans.’


Yvonne has been with the herd since 2021 when she came in as a student intern. She subsequently graduated with a degree in animal science and we could think of no one better to hold this key role for our welfare and research programs at elephantCREW Cooperative teaching has made her realise that learning is a shared experience, elephants and that carers have a lot to learn from each other. Handling and teaching sessions give her confidence around the elephants and allow her to observe anything that needs attention on the elephant.
‘I like them all because they have a lot in common with humans, including personalities. As a result, I use this trait to work on my communication skills.’


Desire has been working with this herd since 2016, when he first came as a volunteer as at the time he had no work, but healthy interest in elephants. He was then taken on as a stable hand and worked hi sway up. Through doing the cooperative teaching course he has been able to work with elephants that he could not work with before. He says that it has become easier for him to do this job. What he has realised is that by doing handling every day the elephants become calmer which means they give him more confidence to work with them. The special bonds that he has developed over years with the Ambassador herd make him and an amazingly empathetic elephant interpreter.
‘I like all the elephants equally, they are like my children I cannot choose one over the other, they are like my family.’


Crosper came to work with the members of the ambassador herd in the tourism operation they belonged to before in 2015. He has noticed that since we retrained, and have been handling the elephants differently, now most of the elephants are calm.
‘The thing I like most like about working elephants was that these elephants were orphaned, coming from different places and we can give them a good quality of life. Our elephants can’t face the situation that wild elephants are facing, especially from poaching and poisonings from cyanide.’


Peter has been with the herd since 2012. Before this Peter had gained a huge amount of bush knowledge working as a tracker for wildlife veterinarians operating in the bush and even as a Lion carer. Spend some time with Peter and you will discover things about the bush that only a lifetime experience can tell you.
‘I like the way they behave when feeding in the wild. There are all now part of my family we are bound together.’


Bongani has been with the herd since 2021, although he had experience as an elephant carer he came in as a stable hand and worked his way up, learning new techniques as he progressed. He says that cooperative teaching has introduced him to basic knowledge of elephants and that handling and teaching help him build bonds with the elephants.
‘All elephants are my favourite since they remind me of my family.’


Harrison has been with the herd since 2021 when he came in as an elephant carer having had experience working with elephants in human care elsewhere. He learnt cooperative teaching at elephantCREW which has taught him how to work better with elephants. He says that handling and teaching creates confidence in the elephant and carer creating a bond between the two.
‘I like all elephants because they all respond positively to the teaching.’


Progress started with elephants as work experience from school in 2016, he then got a job as a stable hand the following year. He says that the reason why I work with the elephants is because he likes to build a good relationship of trust. He puts in all his effort to these elephants and feels that they like him back.
‘I want to stay working with the elephants because I want to show other people how important elephants are.’


Mishek started working with the elephantCREW ambassador herd at the same time that they arrived at their new home in Jafuta. he says that he likes to work with elephants to become friendly with them and protect them. He has learnt how to better approach people from learning how to approach elephants and he likes that elephants like you to greet you in a calm way.
‘When you are working with an elephant you must learn more things about the elephants, about how they see the world and their welfare.’


Adrian joined this herd as a stable hand in 2021 and has been with them ever since. He comes from a community that borders the Jafuta reserve and often has problems of wild elephants crop raiding his relatives feilds. The cooperative teaching training has greatly aided him in overcoming his fear of elephants. He has noticed that handling and training the elephant generates mutual respect and confidence in both the carer and the elephant, resulting in a positive relationship between the two.
‘I treat all elephants the same because they have a lot in common with humans, including intelligence.’


Courage has been working with this herd since 2021 when he came in as a stable hand. Because of the training provided, in-depth information and skills on animal handling and teaching, he was able to get more practical understanding on how to handle elephants. He likes that handling allows monitoring the elephant’s health and helps provides the elephant safety and security.
“I appreciate all the elephants because they are just like students who have varied learning styles and hence deserve the same amount of attention.’


Macben has been with the herd since 2021, when he first joined the herd as a stable hand. He learned how to handle and teach elephants as part of a cooperative teaching course. He says that a carer’s understanding of an elephant’s well-being can be improved by handling and teaching.
‘I enjoy them all. Because I live with all of them, it’s impossible for me to select.’