The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Tembe Elephant Reserve

Afrikaans name: Tembe Olifantpark

Tembe Elephant Reserve is home to many elephant

A waterhole in Tembe Elephant Reserve

Photo © Adobe Stock


Tembe Elephant Reserve is located on the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. It is around 30,000 hectares in extent and was established in 1983 to protect the last free-ranging herds of Elephants in KwaZulu-Natal. These large mammals used to roam freely between South Africa and Mozambique, and many were poached whilst in Mozambique, as Mozambique was going through a civil war at the time.

Tembe Elephant Reserve is now home to around 250 elephants, and they are believed to be some of the biggest of their species. The predominant habitat in the park is dry sand forest.

Various other mammals are found in the reserve including White Rhino, Leopard, Giraffe, Zebra, Kudu and Spotted Hyena. One of the rarer antelope that you might see is the Suni.

Tembe is high on the bird-watcher’s list of places to visit. Over 340 species of bird have been recorded and there are many specials that might be seen. These include Rufous-bellied Heron, Natal Nightjar, Rudd’s Apalis and Woodward’s Batis.

The accommodation in the reserve consists of luxury safari tents each with an outdoor shower. There is a restaurant on site as well.

Share your experiences at Tembe.

References and further reading

Things to do in Moer & Gone Places - Author: Jacques Marais - Published: 2015 - Page: 154

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 172

Stuarts Field Guide to National Parks & Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd ed - Author: Chris & Mathilde Stuart - Published: 2018 - Page: 112

Southern African Birdfinder - Author: Cohen, Spottiswoode and Rossouw - Published: 2006 - Page: 146

Places to Visit in Southern Africa - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1995 - Page: 170

On Route - Explore South Africa region by region - 3rd edition - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 2014 - Page: 268

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Published: 1995 - Page: 146

Maps of the Zululand and Maputaland Reserves - Author: Honeyguide Publications - Published: 2016 - Page: 5

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 151

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 195

go! Drive & Camp No 19 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 42

Country Life - Issue 177 - Author: - Published: 2011 - Page: 34

Getaway - Vol 31 No 04 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 74

Atlas of National Parks and Reserves of South Africa - Author: Marielle Renssen - Published: 2006 - Page: 82


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