BY Nikki Bolton


Tembe was our final park in the OLLI Frontier Rhino Ride 2017... 

2000kms on a mountainbike in a month for Rhino Conservation

the last park before the final stretch via Kosi Bay to

plant our banner “Close the borders” at the Mozambique border.

The cycle to Ithala Game Reserve (Ezemvelo) had been particularly challenging with predominantly dirt roads so Wayne used one of his rest days to break the cycle from Ithala to Jozini Dam en route to Tembe Elephant Park and cycled part of the route a day earlier which turned out to be a very wise move. The following day took him up the 6km long pass overlooking  the Dam past Digs Pascoe’s  “Space for Elephants” and a further 20kms past the dam before returning to the Jozini Tyger Lodge where we were able to relax in our kindly sponsored accommodation and enjoy a spectacular view of Jozini Dam.  Olli caused quite a stir in the small town with many locals crowding around him for selfies while we were replenishing our supplies and he was parked casually in the parking lot.


“There’s a huge need for people to work together and we are finding that there

is more and more synergy and people getting together and doing things. 

United in looking after… elephants and rhinos

which are an important part of our heritage.

We will win this war!”
Digs Pascoe – Space for Elephants Foundation
The following day was a shorter 60km stretch to Tembe but the road was fairly flat and downhill towards the coast.  It was quite busy and potentially dangerous so Wayne had to be very vigilant.  Interestingly enough during this kind of experience his sense of hearing became incredibly heightened as he would have to anticipate vehicles approaching from behind especially when roads were in more rural areas without much of a shoulder to accommodate cyclists. 
Our reception at Tembe Elephant Park was exceptionally warm and inviting. 

Tembe’s Conservation Manager, Richard Schütte, along with Tourism Manager, Tom Mahamba, and the Tembe Team made us feel right at home. 
“Together as a unit we shall protect and preserve our heritage. 
Let us save what we have before it’s too late. 
We will fight to the bitter end.  We will win!”
Richard Schütte
Tembe Elephant Park / Ezemvelo Conservation Manager
It was great to catch up with old friends like Tembe’s District Ecologist, Catheriné Hanekom,

a fellow KZN SANParks Honorary Ranger from many years before.
“Rhinos epitoomise “conservation” and everyone’s efforts to protect all biodiversity,

even the smallest creatures which make up our amazing planet –

Thank you for your dedication.”
Catheriné Hanekom




“There is a place in Africa where the wild elephants still roam. The legendary Ivory Route where the great tuskers still tramp their ancient pathways through dense sand-forest and tall yellow grass. This is Tembe Elephant Park, a 300 square kilometre reserve between Zululand and Mozambique, home to Africa’s largest elephants as well as the smallest antelope, the suni.
The Big Five also find their home here – lion, leopard, black and white rhino and buffalo, as well as more than 340 bird species and myriad other animals and plants. It is a world of hot silence and white sand, where the busy modern world ceases to exist and only the rising and setting of the sun marks the passage of time. It is also the ancestral home of the Tembe people, who co-own and manage Tembe Elephant Park Lodge: a place of warm African hospitality, classic safari food, world-class personal service. 


This is where you will find the Africa of story and legend, of adventure and myth.”

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)!
The park was developed by Tembe Tribal Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

It is comprised of 30,000 hectares of land which was historically owned by the Tembe tribe – the park was proclaimed in October 1983, after ‘the late’ Chief Msimba Tembe donated the land for the formation of the 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.
It was established in 1983 to try help conserve and protect the sand forest and its many unique flora and fauna species and to create a refuge or place of peace for the last naturally occurring population of African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) in KwaZulu-Natal.
These elephants  used to migrate between Maputaland and southern Mozambique and were traumatised by poaching during the civil war in Mozambique.  The park was only opened to the public in 1991 and is now home to 250 elephants which are the largest in the world. Isilo, the largest living tusker in the southern hemisphere, died in 2014.  200 More elephants which used to be part of the same group live in the Maputo Elephant Reserve in Mozambique.
The Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area is planned to link the two reserves and the Lubombo Conservancy in Swaziland in a single transfrontier reserve. 

The Olli Team were privileged to enjoy the hospitality of Tom Mahamba, Tembe’s Tourism Manager, who hosted us at the community managed Tembe Lodge.  He had a very special way of making his guests feel that they were important and went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable and personally attended to. 
Sadly Tom passed away unexpectedly only a few months after our visit to Tembe but we will always remember his passion for Tembe and conservation, his community and his keen interest and appreciation for what One Land Love It represents.

Message of Unity in Conservation…

“It is our heritage and we need to protect it for our future generations
so it creates jobs and stabilises our economy.”
Tom Mahamba
Tembe Elephant Park / Tourism Manager

References:  Wikipedia / Wildlife Act / Tembe Elephant Park

OLLI's horn

When we first decided we would like to cover Olli's horn in the colours of the South African flag we were not sure how to accomplish this is an effective and sustainable way.  This is where Morgan 3D came in and made our "Project come to life".  Here Olli's horn has the last ring representing the parks placed on his horn... what a great sight... thank you to Quentin Harley and the Morgan Team for making Olli iconic...


 July 31, 2017
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Diary of the parks
Nikki Bolton

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