Elephant Havens – Part IV

Elephant Havens was established with the primary goal of rescuing baby elephant orphans, raising them and ultimately releasing them back into the wild as young adults. The charity hopes to become a leading voice in wildlife conservation awareness and wildlife protection. However the little elephants also insist that the charity engages with their human neighbors as part of the mission.

Community Outreach

Elephant Havens has hired all local Botswana staff from the Delta area and immediate community. As of today EH employs 24 people, impacting them and their families.

EH has successfully drilled three water wells for the local community to provide the first ever fresh drinking water to the area.

The Foundation has initiated outreach to those most in need and are feeding those folks who the team can identify as most critically affected by the covid shutdown.

Several recent initiatives have been to complete or repair new bridges over flooded channels that lead to the community.

EH has acquired a new Toyota bus, and makes four trips each morning and four trips each afternoon to the local school. The local children can now avoid the dangerous miles-long trek to school through corridors used by elephants moving between the water and the mopane woodlands.

The bus has proven to be such a success that the local school now overflows with students. EH is providing tents as classrooms to shelter the overflow and provide the opportunity for more children than ever to engage in learning.

EH is providing school uniforms and shoes for 150 students, with the uniforms to be sown by local tailors.

EH supports local women by training them in the craft of paper-making using elephant dung. These ladies are making quite a successful business out of their beautiful paper products that are sold on the property.

EH has built toilet facilities for the local community center.

EH has established relationships with local leaders and classrooms of students. Several classrooms of students have visited the orphanage and had their first positive interaction with elephants.

EH has recently provide 100 milk goats to ten local farmers to raise and sell goat milk. This product is very beneficial to the young elephants. Each farmer will tend to their goats, provide milk to EH until the value reaches the original cost of the goats. At that point the farmers will own the goats and will sell the milk to EH.


  1. EH is approved as one of 12 wildlife partners with the Dallas Zoo.
  2. Dallas Zoo interns chose EH as their conservation project and raised $20,000 for the Foundation.
  3. EH’s Botswana vet, Dr. Comfort Nkgowe, visited Dallas and Houston zoos to tech and learn.
  4. The Dallas Zoo has provided some of the equipment as well as specifications for the establishment of a proper “bush” veterinary lab. They also sent two of their employees to help set up the lab and train the local team in Botswana how to do simple lab tests.

Elephant Havens – Part III – The Elephants


MmaMotse (means Haven)is the first elephant rescued by EH when just over one year old. She was orphaned because of suspected poaching. She is now almost five and is the matriarch of the group.

Lerumo (with Sandy)

Lerumo (means Bullet) is just over four,and female. She was rescued at 3 1/2 after being shot resulting in a gaping hole in her trunk. Nursed back to health she has become a very sweet baby girl.


Tsholofelo (means Hope) is just over four and male. He was rescued at 1 1/2 years due to drought conditions in Eretsha.


Bokamoso (means Future) is a one 1/2 year old female, rescued at 10 months. Boko is very feisty but loves contact with the handlers, and Debra for sure!


Mofalodi (means Survivor) is just over three and a male. He was rescued at 1 1/2, orphaned because his mother died of cyanobacteria in the panhandle of the Delta. He loves his milk and Bee’s thumb!


Sandy was named in honor of Alexander McCall Smith, the famous Scottish author. He is 2 /1/2 years old, rescued at 1 year when his mother was killed by humans. He was featured in the book called How to Raise an Elephant, a volume in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.


Tshepiso (means Promise) is 3 1/2, rescued at 9 months after her mother was killed by humans. She was very traumatized for some time, probably because she had seen her mother killed. After MmaMotse weeks with her in the boma, and she has become quite relaxed and fond of oranges.


Bonolo (means Calm) has just turned five. She was rescued at age 2 1/2 when her mother was killed by poachers.She was born with just one tusk, apparently quite common. She is a calm, sweet girl.


Seloko (means Mud) is just over two, and was rescued at 1 1/2 when she became stuck in mud, and was abandoned by the herd. He has become very attached to his bottle, and hates to give it up.

Elephant Havens – Part 2

The Property

The original site of the orphanage has tripled in size and includes a mud wallow and sand bathing area as well as plenty of browsing and grazing habitat. Local tribal authorities, land boards and communities have gifted Elephant Havens with 840 acres of additional land. This will be used for soft release of the elephants as they outgrow the nursery at age 4-5. They will then spend 5-9 years with little human contact before reintroduction into the Delta.

There are 13 enclosed boma area (enclosures), plus 2 bomas for the temporary quarantine of new elephants. We are currently raising 9 orphaned elephants, all under five years of age.

On-site the facilities include an elephant formula prep kitchen, laundry, laboratory, food and medical storage room, refrigeration for elephant medicines and formula, and a scale for weighing the elephants.

The site is fully fenced with an adult elephant-proof solar-powered electric fence, as specified by Botswana wildlife officials.

The guest reception area includes a kitchen, dining room, meeting room and bathroom, as well as a lovely expansive porch.

The staff village is home to 15 on-site staff members. The project requires satff on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Elephant Handlers

Onkobutse “Onks” Motamma
Akanyang “AK” Mosabata
Morulaganyi “Zooh” Reekae
Thusang “Tusca or Two” Zambo
Keleabetswe “Kay” Lesetedi
Ntshepang “NT” Forembi
Kentse “Kingsley” Difungu
Gobusamang “”Gee” Bayani
Eric Letsati
Annet Khata
Allan Setshwantsho

Elephant Havens – Part 1

Many of you know that we are huge fans and donors to a wonderful charity called Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation, the principal funder of Elephant Havens in Botswana. I am taking the liberty of plagiarizing their written information, but I want to provide my subscribers and readers a detailed description of this venture. Karen and I became involved originally when we met Boago Poloko, the elephant handler at Abu, in 2015. This meeting and a friendship on Facebook evolved into us meeting Scott and Debra in 2018. We were enthralled with their plans and we became an early donor to the foundation. Our admiration for Bee, Debra and Scott and their dedication to protecting the elephants and providing aid and comfort to the local community has only deepened with the passage of time.

About Elephant Havens

Debra Stevens and her husband Scott Jackson have been trekking to Africa from the US since 2000. Over the years, they fell in love with the villagers and wildlife. But it was on a visit to Botswana in 2013 when Debra met a 6-month-old orphaned elephant named Naledi that her life changed forever. The connection between them was instantaneous and a lifelong bond was created.

The possibility of saving more orphaned or abandoned babies like Naledi inspired Debra and Scott, along with their local Botswana friend and experienced elephant handler, Boago Poloko, to found the non-profit Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation in 2017. This mission to protect and preserve the African elephant was truly founded by love.

Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation was formed in 2017 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in the US. The US charity supports Elephant Havens operating in Botswana as a separate Botswana charitable trust. In 2018 the Trust was awarded a one-of-a-kind permit by Botswanan authorities that allows the team to quickly rescue and move orphaned and abandoned elephants and raise them with the goal of returning them to the wild – a project that will take more than ten years from the time of rescue for each elephant.

Through habitat protection, community outreach and the rescue and hand-rearing of young elephant orphans, Elephant Havens aims to become a leading voice in wildlife conservation awareness and wildlife protection.

With funds from generous donors, we built the Elephant Havens orphanage on the edge of the Okavango Delta. With more than 850 acres of land, this sanctuary for abandoned and orphaned elephants is a safe place for them to be cared for until they can be reintroduced into the wild. We encourage both foreign visitors and local community members to visit and learn more about these remarkable animals.

We are also working to bridge the gap between communities and wildlife. By educating local communities on elephant behavior and habitat protection, we hope to instill an understanding of the benefits of conservation. Beyond this we also work with the local community to provide resources that make a positive impact on their lives.

Our team in Botswana is creating educational activities and experiences aimed at helping people of all ages to understand and appreciate wildlife and wild lands, encouraging people to take action to conserve it now and for future generations.

The Founders

Boago Poloko, or “Bee”, has been part of Elephant Havens from the very beginning. He is a third generation elephant handler who was raised by his handler father and grandfather. Bee is also a licensed safari guide and a naturalist. In the past he worked at Abu Camp supervising a healthy breeding herd that lived as wild elephants during the day and returned home to the bomas at night. There he learned how to raise these deceptively fragile orphan elephants to adulthood. At Elephant Havens, Bee manages our team of handlers and oversees all aspects of rescue and care of our elephants.

Debra Stevens learned how enticing elephants are as a species after she met and fell in love with a 6-month-old orphaned elephant on one of her many trips to Africa. These animals so need love and connection to community that they simply can’t live without it. She is determined to give orphaned and abandoned babies a “family” of both humans and other elephants so they can thrive and eventually be reintroduced to the wild. Debra is chief fundraiser and evangelist for Elephant Havens and travels fro Dallas to Botswana every other month to bond with the elephants and work with the team there.

Scott Jackson was introduced to Africa by Debra on their honeymoon. After decades behind a desk he found that in Botswana and other areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the human footprint was light and at every turn there was something new to discover and learn. He quickly developed the same passion for elephants that his wife has always known. While maintaining his regular real estate law practice in Dallas, Scott also guides the U.S. charity’s grant writing efforts and helps coordinate operations on the ground for projects in Africa, from elephant care to construction and insurance, land acquisition to permit procurement and more.