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.
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.