How it all started

Rory Hensman

Rory Hensman grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, surrounded by both wild and domestic animals. As a father, he wanted his children to experience nature the same way he did, so he converted one of his agricultural farms into a game reserve. During the culling operations in Zimbabwe, he received 2 young elephants which due to their young age they had to be hand-reared. It was during this period that Rory realized how smart and willing to please these animals were.  Soon, the Hensman farm became known for its work with elephants, and people began bringing orphaned and problem elephants to Rory. He soon landed up with a herd of 12 elephants on the farm and began to use them to help with simple farm chores such as herding the cattle, checking fence lines and anti-poaching patrols in his game reserve. Rory even trained elephants to track human scent and intended on using them to conduct anti-poaching patrols in the National Parks in the Zambezi Valley in the late 1990’s to help stop poaching of Rhinos (Zimbabwe lost 33 000 rhino in 18 years). Rory then transferred to tourism, hoping to reach a wide and varied audience and use his elephants as educational ambassadors to teach people about the value of these animals. In 2002, Rory and his family were forced to leave Zimbabwe and they began their elephant operations in South Africa. In 2003, he started Elephants for Africa Forever, an organization which took in problem elephants due to be culled and instead tamed and trained them to connect humans with and educate and inspire people to think more about elephants and their conservation in a Changing Africa. In 2010, Adventures with Elephants, the home base of RHCRU, was established. Sadly, Rory passed in 2013, but his legacy and passion for elephants lives on through the Rory Hensman Conservation and Research Unit.

Founded in 2016, the Rory Hensman Conservation and Research Unit continues Rory’s vision of giving value to elephants through education and research efforts.  RHCRU focuses on all aspects of elephant research and welfare, believing that the best approach to conservation is a holistic perspective. We aim to deliver workable solutions to those on the ground directly involved with wildlife, and to engage their help in creating intelligent, effective, and simple solutions.