About the Roode family
As a child of six, Lente Roode (then Schürmann) was given an orphaned cheetah cub after a neighboring farmer shot it’s mother. They called the cub ‘Sebeka’, and she soon became part of the Schürmann household. Together, Lente and her mother (a nurse) lovingly cared for the animal. Lente and her cheetah were inseparable.
After completing her studies in education, Lente married Johann Roode in 1970.
In 1985, Johann and Lente bought their first farm, which bordered on her family’s land in Hoedspruit. Lente then inherited her father’s farm. Lente’s longing to be involved on the farm, and her need to work with animals developed, and the decision to change to game farming became inevitable. Further land was acquired, and Kapama Game Reserve – 12 500 hectares in extent – came into being.
With the help and guidance of the late Professor David Meltzer of the Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science (at the University of Pretoria), and Des Varaday, Lente and Johann Roode planned and developed the infrastructure for a cheetah centre, and built the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project (HCP) within a year. The inclusion of other species into the Centre’s breeding programme necessitated the name change from the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC).
In the world of conservation in South Africa, few women can match Lente Roode’s passion and commitment. From her pioneering work in the conservation of the cheetah, and her contribution towards having these animals removed from the CITES red list of endangered species, to providing a home for a herd of 12 Zimbabwean and one orphaned elephant – destined for an uncertain future – she has established a measure for conservation in South Africa. From humble beginnings as a child growing up on a farm in the lowveld, Lente Roode’s life has always been destined to be one involved with conservation, and the animal kingdom. Through the establishment of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (initially the Hoedspruit Cheetah Project) in 1990, Lente became involved in developing South Africa’s premier research facility for cheetahs, which expanded to include the care of other endangered and orphaned animals.
In the New South Africa, she is extending her reach to include the lives of the youth – especially the previously disadvantaged and under privileged – through an education programme which aims to further awareness, ensuring that the country raises excellent conservationists to take it into the future.
The legacy of conservation has moved from one generation to the next within the Roode family. After completing her Honours Degree in Accounting in 1994, Lente’s daughter, Adine, moved to Hoedspruit to manage the Kapama Game Reserve. After spending 16 months in the United Kingdom, Adine returned to South Africa in 2003 to focus on the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre and Camp Jabulani, after her father’s untimely death in 2002. Adine then took over the full-time management of Camp Jabulani in 2005. Elephants are her passion, and her fastidious operation of the camp is a testament to her dedication to ensuring that the elephants flourish in an environment that is as close as possible to that which they would experience in the wild.