Tembe Elephant Park
Situated in Northern Zululand, and adjoining the Mozambique border, Tembe Elephant Park is most widely known for having over 200 of the world’s largest Elephants, which are also the last remaining indigenous herd in KwaZulu-Natal and includes the legendary big “Tuskers.” (Tuskers are elephants whose enormous tusks weigh more than 45kgs)!
Tembe Elephant Park is comprised of 30,000 hectares of land which was historically owned by the Tembe tribe – the ancestral custodians of the area. Nkosi (Chief) Mzimba Tembe donated the land for the formation of this Game Reserve, and it is still owned by the Tembe tribe community, while its precious bio-diversity is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife; the KwaZulu-Natal conservation service.
Accommodation: Thatched chalets
Activities: Game drives, bush walks, birding, game drives
Highlights: Excellent Elephant Sightings, Big 5, Splendid Birding
Tembe is a “Big 5” Reserve (Lion, Leopard, Black and White Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant), but there are no Cheetah or African Wild Dogs on the reserve. It is home to a rich diversity of other wildlife such as Hippo, Zebra and various antelope species, from the majestic Giraffe which stand at 5 meters tall, down to one of the smallest antelope in Africa – the Suni, at only 35 centimeters high!
Tembe represents an area of high biodiversity and ecotourism potential. The wider area (Maputaland) is relatively undeveloped with little human influence. The minimal impact by commercial development has allowed the rich biodiversity and high levels of endemic flora and fauna species to thrive and remain, in many ways, untouched. These endemics include about 230 species of vascular plants, 1 mammal species, 23 reptile species, 5 bird species and vast insect life that at this stage has not yet been properly explored. Tembe can therefore be referred to as a thriving endemic sanctuary!
Built on ancient coastal sand dunes and falling within the core area of the Maputaland centre, Tembe Elephant National Park displays a spectacular variety of rare and endemic plant and animal species. Most of these being found in a unique forest type, locally referred to as a sand forest. These sand forests, found in patches scattered throughout Tembe are comprised of one of the most unique plant communities in the Maputaland centre.