The Welfare Program

eleCREW is the first elephant facility in Africa to reach compliance with the historic ‘Standards for the Management and Welfare of elephants in human care in Southern Africa’. This is a truly meaningful set of standards developed by Welfare Scientists, Wildlife Veterinarians, Welfare and Conservation NGO’s in conjunction with elephant care facilities such as eleCREW. It has been described as a ‘first for Africa’ and eleCREW is proud to be pioneering such work. To find out more click here.

One Planet – One Health, One Welfare

Animal and Human Welfare is a constant thread in all eleCREW’s activities. The Welfare Program focuses on four key areas:

  1. The welfare of the Ambassador Herd

  2. The welfare of all Elephants in Human Care

  3. The welfare of Free-roaming Elephants

  4. The well-being of communities and ecosystems that coexist with elephants – One Health, One Welfare

It is the welfare and quality of life of the Ambassador Herd that is eleCREW’s priority and creates the platform from which eleCREW aims to achieve the objectives of its Community, Research, Education, and Welfare programs. These programs are all about ensuring the well being of free-roaming elephants and the communities that live side by side with them. This is the core of the holistic approach eleCREW takes and the ‘One Health, One Welfare Approach’ that we believe will lead to a harmonious coexistence for humans, wildlife and the environment.

The Ambassador Herd

eleCREW achieves this by, at all times, understanding the welfare status of the herd both as a group and as individuals.

This starts with behavioural observation and analysis, from which we identify areas for improvement, before implementing positive changes. It is a constant process, after all, elephants are adaptive living sentient beings, and they can tell us, through their behaviour, how we can help.

This elephant led process can even lead to release if that is deemed appropriate and in the best interest of the individual. This was the case for Magoti, a young female member of the Ambassador Herd, who chose to join a free-roaming herd in 2018 and whom we continue to monitor via a satellite tracking collar. She is doing very well and is a testament to what can be achieved when a welfare programme is led by the elephants rather than the humans. 

We have implemented cooperative teaching methods that are proven to improve the welfare of mammals in human care This allows for humane handling and stress-free veterinary care as well as providing mental stimulation and the development of bonds of mutual respect between human and elephant.

All Elephants in Human Care

eleCREW, along with its Welfare Program partners, is committed, through applied science and practical experience, to improving the welfare of all elephants in human care, wherever they might be.

eleCREW actively works with numerous other academic, veterinary, welfare NGO and elephant welfare partners, to exchange knowledge and work toward a greater quality of life for all elephants in human care.

eleCREW is a founding member and funder of a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop meaningful standards for the welfare of elephants in human care in the Southern African Region.

This collaboration has resulted in the publication of ‘Standards for the Management and Welfare of Elephants in Human Care in Southern Africa’ by our partner organisation We Are All Mammals (WAAM) and is the guiding document for eleCREW welfare standards.

Free-roaming Elephants

Where welfare is about the individual, conservation is about the species and this has traditionally caused some conflict between these two fields.

eleCREW works actively with both welfare and conservation partners to understand the welfare of wild elephant populations and their conservation status. Conservation without welfare may be something of a hollow victory and the eleCREW team hope to contribute significantly to improving the understanding of this.

One issue of great significance to the Elephants in the Victoria Falls area is rubbish. The city of Victoria Falls has grown rapidly over the last few years and so has the amount of rubbish that the human population has produced. This all ends up on a dumpsite where it is sorted. However, for various reasons, the dumpsite has not been protected from wildlife well and many a night elephants have been found ingesting plastic that is mixed up with organic matter they find palatable. This leads to terrible outcomes, with elephant dung including plastic found up to 40km away. Some elephants show dangerous behaviour toward humans, enraged by the discomfort experienced by having a belly full of rubbish. Fatalities even occur due to the level of plastic in their stomach that causes significant internal trauma.

In January 2022 eleCREW and our partners completed the erection of a 4km elephant prevention fence at the dumpsite, with generous donations made by the Victoria Falls Community. This was made possible by Connected Conservation, The Pristine Victoria Falls Society and Shearwater Adventures. Together we will prevent plastic pollution from impacting the welfare of free-ranging elephants.

One Health, One Welfare

When it comes to human-elephant coexistence it is impossible to look at the welfare of one part of the equation without considering the welfare of the other.

In the pursuit of sustainable solutions, welfare needs to be thoughtfully considered and carefully balanced. eleCREW embraces the emerging concepts of ‘one health’ and ‘one welfare’ as essentially, for a healthy planet, environment, animals and humans all have to coexist in a healthy balance.

Through our Community Empowerment, Education and Research Programs the eleCREW team hopes to make significant contributions to the welfare of elephants, communities and the ecosystems that they share.


Who are the Key Team Members?

Jake Rendle-Worthington


Yvonne Masarira

Welfare Officer and Research Coordinator

All the Elephant Carers

These are the guys who do all the hard work to ensure our elephants lead the best lives possible.

How can you help?


Pays for the monthly behavioural observations and analysis



Pays for the veterinary care for an elephant for a month


Pays for supplementary feed for an elephant for a month providing for optimal nutritional and behavioural health


Pays for a behavioural observation collection device that helps us move toward digitising our welfare monitoring systems


Pays for the high level of care required to ensure one elephant leads their best possible life at Jafuta

Who are our Elephant Welfare Partners?

Victoria Falls Pristine Society
Vets for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe (VAWZ)
University of Nottingham
We Are All Mammals

“The conscious subjective experience of emotions is what we are ultimately concerned about when we consider human & animal welfare”