We’ve Accomplished So Much!

Hello Friends of Elephant Havens,

Scott and I just returned from another incredible trip to Botswana. This was mostly a work trip for Elephant Havens, but I did get to spend three days with Naledi, the little orphaned elephant that changed my world. She is almost five years old now and still runs to greet me with her trunk up! Then she starts to suck my fingers like she did when she was a small baby. How can you not fall in love with an elephant showing you so much affection?

We were able to accomplish so much on our visit. For the first time in all our travels to Botswana, we actually stayed in the village of Maun, or as it’s fondly called by the locals, “Donkey Town”. Maun is the gateway for most safaris in Botswana and is only a 30-minute drive to the Elephant Havens site. We were able to personally meet with the team that will be building our orphanage. We all met at the property under a big fig tree and discussed the architectural drawings. I wish you all could have been there with us to watch this plan get underway. I know without each and every one of you, none of this dream could be happening.

We also have made tremendous progress helping the local community. Reducing human-elephant conflict is such an important part of conservation efforts. In collaboration with Jen Weimann from the Maun branch of Global March for Elephants, Rhinos & Lions, we are working with residents of Shorobe village and the surrounding area to find ways for the local communities to coexist with the increasing presence of elephant herds. We believe we’ve found a possible solution to keep the elephants out of the locals’ gardens – wireless, waterproof, solar-powered strobe lights that have a built-in motion sensor. These units are small, require no electricity and can be easily attached to any tree or fence post. The motion-sensing lights are proving to be most effective. Elephants are stopping in their tracks and turning away! We are testing them out in the Shorobe area, which is also where our property is located. The great thing about this deterrent is that each light costs only $25. Our goal is to have 500 of these lights placed around the local farms before the end of the year. Of course this is where you come in – please think about us in the coming months and consider donating to this much-needed conflict reduction effort.

I’ve told many of you how lucky we seem to be at Elephant Havens. At the last minute before our return trip from Maun to Johannesburg, Scott was able to get one ticket upgraded to business class, which on this little flight means you get the same size seat but also a cold sandwich. Of course, Scott gave the seat to me. Well, I was sitting next to this older Scottish gentleman who struck up a conversation. He was none other than Alexander McCall Smith, the author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels. If you haven’t read this delightful series of books, I highly recommend them. They are about the kind, gentle people of Botswana. He has done so much for the people there, and most people believe he is responsible for the tourism boom of Botswana over the last 20 years. He has a new book coming out in November and offered to come to Dallas next year and host a fundraiser for Elephant Havens. He also has many old friends in Dallas, as he taught some classes at SMU law school. The world is getting smaller and smaller. By the way, there is a beautiful Botswana photo essay on Alexander McCall Smith’s website we highly recommend viewing!

Lastly, we are so proud of all the work Taps and Bee have done. We were finally able to meet their families and get to know all the people that volunteer for our Sweeps litter pick-up initiative. For the first time, Scott and I were able to participate and it was heartwarming to see all of the volunteers picking up litter with their children.

We know that all of this could not have happened without your support and we never forget that. I continue to be surprised and delighted with the generosity we’ve received from all of you for these important projects. With your continued donations we are making a huge impact in this community! Please know I am always standing by for any questions or advice.


Debra Stevens and Scott Jackson

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