The Hensman Elephant Story
Born and brought up on the family farm in Zimbabwe, Rory Hensman has always been surrounded by animals of one form or another, ranging from dogs and polo ponies to countless orphaned wild animals and birds. This led to his profound love and understanding of animals and his desire to learn all about them.
In 1988 he took on his first two young orphaned elephant, Jumbo and Miss Ellie, and very soon realized that these animals were incredibly intelligent. When Rory and Lindie were married in 1993, Lindie rode Miss Ellie to their wedding ceremony on the farm.
Rory and Lindie were soon confounding their critics by taming and training the elephant to do various farm chores such as rounding up the cattle for dipping. The Hensmans gradually acquired more elephant from various sources and then started training elephant for the first elephant-back safari operation in Zimbabwe. They have subsequently been involved in the taming and training of over 80 elephant, and, as their unique training methods were recognized and applauded, earned the esteemed ‘Elephant Whisperer’ title.
In March 2002, politically motivated War veterans chased them off their farm in Zimbabwe, which had belonged to the Hensman family since 1932. Lindie had already experienced political mayhem once before, having been chased out of Angola on a 48-hour notice as a political refugee with her family. The Hensmans now had to sell their elephant, and attempt to make a new start in South Africa.
In September 2003 Rory and Lindie, in partnership with Howard Blight and Philé Van Zyl created a new company, Elephants for Africa Forever – known as EFAF.
EFAF has embarked on an unparalleled level of professionalism in order to ensure excellence with regard to its Elephant Handlers and its management of the elephants.
Each elephant is subjected to an exacting test of obedience and competence in order to ensure its suitability for elephant-back safaris.
Each elephant will have to pass this test with a 100% correct result before it is certificated and can participate in EFAF tourism ventures.
The Elephant Handlers also endure a series of examinations testing each one’s ability in respect of elephant handling and the needs of EFAF clients and guests. Each Elephant Handler is issued with a certificate of competence, according to their graded pass mark and is reviewed annually.
The emphasis behind these stringent standards is to ensure that guests maximize their experience by observing the Handlers and the elephants working together in total harmony.
EFAF’s taming and training procedures can only be achieved by ensuring that the systems of the well tried and proven bilateral ask and reward principal is applied, wherein mutual trust and respect is honoured.