Sean Hensman, Adventures with Elephants – 30th of January 2016

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Today we visited Sean Hensman. This visit is an example of how a Nuffield Scholarship can take you places you would never had thought. About a year ago I said to Philippa my better half that I would like to travel to Africa and she mentioned a friend of hers from University. So I emailed this guy out of the blue and asked for ideas of visits in RSA and he came back with a great list of people to see. Sean is that guy and has an amazing story himself. Sean’s father was a farmer in Zimbabwe and they were forced off their farm but Sean’s father managed to save 12 elephants that were on his farm. These elephants were going to be slaughtered by the army in Zimbabwe. Rory Hensman managed to negotiate their safety and trucked them to South Africa. Where he landed in South Africa with nothing but 12 elephants. Eventually after a spell in Hazyview they ended up in Bela Bela where they now run Adventures with Elephants (www.adventureswithelephants.com ). They now have 5 elephants that would have been euthanised due to poor behaviour. They have trained these elephants to now interact with the public. Sean works with his brother Mike who was our host for today

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They also now have a new addition Zambezi

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The fence is for our benefit. Zambezi is very boisterous and will knock you over if he thinks you would like attention. It is very difficult but you have to ignore him so as not to encourage that behaviour. During the experience the elephants demonstrate their extraordinary memory and also give willing people a kiss

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After saying hello you have a ride on the elephants around part of their range

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Below is the elephants on their was to see us

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Normally you would help wash the elephants after the ride in the dam but due to drought this was cancelled.

The evening before when we arrived we went with Mike to watch him train a couple of dogs to be tracker dogs for anti poaching

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These two young German Shepherds were chosen from 200 dogs

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Above Nathan is setting a track and then places a ball at the end which the dogs have to find. We followed quietly behind so not to distract the dogs

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Once these dogs are partly trained they and Mike are going to Zambia. There Mike will spend three months with the dogs and the handlers finishing off the training. These dogs will them help fight against poaching. They have also trained elephants for anti poaching and also below is Trouble

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Trouble is a Meerkat who would have been killed by his mother so Sean took him in and he has been trained detect explosives.

We were lucky to spend a couple of days with Sean and Mike and were so impressed with their enthusiasm and innovation to take their lives which were devastated by their farm being taken away to building a successful business. They are a perfect example of the tough adaptive African farmers we have met on our travels. Sean and Mike thank you both so much for a great experience and weekend. Anyone who visits Africa should visit here.

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