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an Elephant sized Welcome

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Currently, Grey Matters, Doug and Sandi's Botswana based company, supports the elephant Trio through educational-based eco-tourism. Through Grey Matters international visitors are afforded the opportunity, through Jabu, Thembi and Morula, to foster a kinship with the African elephant.

As part of a unique learning adventure, International visitors accompany the herd on daily foraging treks. Immersed in elephant life, warm bonds of kinship grow from a newly found appreciation of this other creative intelligence. During this special time with the Trio, guests also learn about Living With Elephants objectives and initiatives.

For more Information about visiting the trio, Please e-mail us at !

Where We Are

Meet The Elephants

Meet Their Guardians

A Herd Of Your Own

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WHERE WE ARE

> Bostwana

Botswana is a large landlocked country located in the centre of Southern Africa, a land of extreme contrasts and startling beauty. Botswana is unique. Not only is it home to some of the most extensive, unspoiled wilderness areas in Africa but it has been blessed with a remarkable normalcy. It has a proud history as a stable democracy and a peace- loving, progressive people with a deep sensitivity for their land and wilderness heritage.

 

 

 

 

> Okavango Delta

Tucked away in the remote Northwest corner of Botswana is the Okavango Delta, one of the most spectacular wetlands in the world. Formed by the waters of distant Angolan mountains, the Okavango River rushes to spill its precious liquid onto an ocean of burning sand, the Kalahari. Like a hand spread across the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta forms a vast watery wonderland harboring a myriad of sheltered waterways, channels, lakes, lagoons, flood plains and islands.

In the heart of Botswana's Okavango Delta and at the southern tip of Moremi Wildlife Reserve, lies an enchanting place called Elephant Island. This island is home to three very special African Elephants - Jabu, Thembi and Morula, and their adoptive parents Doug and Sandi Groves.

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  MEET THE ELEPHANTS

> Introduction

Elephants can live for 70 years so when Doug and Sandi Groves adopted Jabu, Thembi and later Morula, rescuing them from culling operations that had left them orphans, they knew they were making a life-long commitment to the trio.

 

 

 

> Background

The bull and baby of the herd, Jabu and Thembi respectively, were orphaned in Kruger National Park (South Africa) culling operation. Doug adopted them as emotionally traumatized and insecure two-year-old calves in October of 1988. Since then, Doug and Sandi have dedicated themselves to the well-being and personal development of these elephants who have grown into delightfully well-adjusted 18 year olds, with a proud and accomplished history as wildlife ambassadors.

Morula was orphaned by a Zimbabwean culling program. She and a bull named Zorba were then sold as pets to a Zimbabwean family. But when the bull killed a man, the duo were sold to Borokoalo, a park in the northwest province of South Africa. There, Zorba proceeded to kill seven white rhino and flip over a vehicle. The park authorities decided that there was no alternative but to have Zorba destroyed. Morula was not implicated in the rhinocide, but she was an elephant alone who had not had the happiest of lives and did exhibit some anti-social behavior and so she was offered for adoption to Doug.

 

 

 

 

 

> Personality

Jabu short for Jabulani, a common Zulu name, means Happiness and indeed Jabu's zest for life is inspiring.

Jabu is a proud and handsome bull who enjoys his role as alpha elephant of the small herd. He is kind, playful, generous, big-hearted and dependable. Of the three elephants he is the most independent and confident. He provides the girls with a steady anchor during times of concern.

Jabu loves interacting with people and building solid relationships based on mutual trust and respect. He is predictable and unconditional in his giving. Jabu has always been a quick and eager pupil and his eyes light up at the prospect of a new challenge. He loves to please and is always ready to give of himself in any team effort.

When Jabu first arrived he was barely as tall as Doug's waist; now Doug barely stands waist-high on him. Jabu is just over 3 metres at the shoulder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thembi short for Thembigela, is a common Zulu name meaning Trust. Thembi is the sweetheart of the herd and the smallest in stature. Perfectly formed, pretty and dainty, Thembi knows a few tricks for getting her way. Smart and very social, she loves to be the center of attention. Thembi knows exactly what she wants and high on her list of priorities are being at the heart of her herd and a continuous buffet of elephant salad.

Thembi is not easily separated from her fellow herd members and quickly becomes concerned if either of the other two wander. Herd security is of major concern to Thembi and she is the first to rally to the defence of her family against any perceived threat. She tends to be overzealous in her self-appointed role as protector of the herd, sometimes perceiving a threat where none exists.

Participating in her development from insecure calf to confident, boisterous, vivacious sub-adult continues to be a heart-warming experience.

 

 

 

 

When Morula came to Doug in mid-December 1994 she was a socially maladjusted and lonely 17 year-old. She lacked confidence and carried with her a lot of old baggage, which manifested itself in a variety of aberrant behavior.
Always submissive in the extreme toward the younger elephants and Doug, she vented her frustrations by creating twisted sculptures out of living trees. Although many a tree fell prey to Morula in her early days with Doug and Sandi, her strongest personality traits have always been ones of great gentleness; she is mild-natured, sensitive and easily bruised emotionally.
Under Doug's diligent care Morula has rediscovered her self-respect and a strong sense of belonging. She can be described as a wallflower but she blossoms beautifully when love and attention are focused directly on her.
Morula weaves a powerful magic of her own as in her quiet and subtle way she captures your heart with her sincere, loyal and sweet nature. She has become a blissfully contented 27 year old, safe and secure in a unique herd whose bonds of kinship extend across the barriers of species.

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GUARDIANS OF GREATNESS

> Introduction

Doug and Sandi strive to give Jabu, Thembi and Morula a life that is as close to elephants' natural lives as possible, yet one that is cushioned from the enormous pressures, insecurities and challenges with which wild elephants are confronted. The Groves vowed from the beginning never to compromise the quality of life and security their elephants need. They are proud that their trio live a life so near to that of wild elephants that they even share grazing grounds.

> Guardians

The Groves together with capable, dedicated and caring Batswana staff share in the demanding task of caring for Jabu, who have chosen to leave their villages and spend their lives as guardians of the three elephants. Together with Doug and Sandi, they are constantly with the elephants, ensuring their needs are met and that they are safe from harm.

The guardians spend the daylight hours out in the bush with the elephants watching over the trio as they forage and play. When night falls, Leano and Letsomo retire to their tent on the perimeter of the elephants' paddock. The elephants sleep secure in the knowledge that Doug, Sandi, Leano and Letsomoand are close at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doug has been working with and studying elephants since 1972. Before coming to Africa in 1987 to work on a film project involving elephants, he had worked with elephants in zoological and wildlife parks on the west coast of the USA for 15 years. Once in Africa his attachment to and passion for elephants only deepened and he decided to commit the rest of his life to studying them and their needs and to teaching others about them. Doug has since been involved in numerous research, educational, film and eco-tourism projects involving African Elephants. He is also full-time caregiver for three orphaned African elephants whom he adopted shortly after arriving in Africa. The moments in life he finds the most fulfilling are when, with an elephant trunk gently resting in his hand, he walks the elephants single file into the bush to find their food for the day, while he shares with visitors walking beside him his knowledge of the elephants' habits and needs and the dangers facing them.

 
 

 

Sandi studied Zoology and Botany at the university of Natal, South Africa. Ten years ago while working at Karkloof Falls Nature Reserve in South Africa Sandi met Doug and his adopted elephants. Both won her heart and she joined Doug in his commitment to the daily care and upbringing of the trio in the wilds of Africa. Sandi concerns her-self greatly with the emotional, intellectual and nutritional well being of the elephants. Her ultimate satisfaction at the end of a day in the bush is when The Trio meander contentedly home with bellies full to the brim. Sandi has a passion for all animals and especially elephants. It is her goal to create better understanding between people and elephants

 

TRAINEE ELEPHANT GUARDIAN

Leano has been with Doug, Sandi and the trio for 3 years. Leano is 22 years old and is a member of the most populous tribe in Ngamiland (Northwestern Botswana), the baYei people—“the people of the swamp.” Traditionally the baYei have excelled in fishing. Many of the baYei have the elephant as a totem animal. The elephant is revered as protector and provider of the baYei people. Leano started out as a fodder cutter and now his prime responsibility is caring for Morula. His gentle personable and caring nature makes him well suited for this task. The trio respond well to his soft touch.

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A HERD OF YOUR OWN

We invite you to explore Africa with us from an elephant's eye perspective, walking in the gigantic and silent footsteps of nature's great masterpiece.

To discover the elephant, from the bristled ends of theitheir skin and silken polish of their ivory.

You explore the astonishing bonds of kinship forged over more than a decade between the elephants and their guardians in a wilderness of mesmerizing beauty.

A delicate blink of Morula's long lashes reveals her sensitive yet powerful personality. Jabu takes you hand in trunk, with his bold and generous nature and together you slowly uncover the age-old secrets of the African elephant and the mysteries of the surrounding wilderness. Thembi, cute, boisterous and impossible to ignore, infatuates you and transforms your understanding of elephants to a deeper and more personal level.

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