“Unless we take immediate action and make the right choices to save Africa’s elephants and its Great Tuskers, put a stop to the ivory trade and preserve critical habitat, we will lose forever all Africa’s Great Tuskers and with that the romance of Africa”.

Dr Johan Marais, ‘In search of Africa’s Great Tuskers’

The Tembe Elephant Reserve is one of most unique destinations in Africa. In its lush swampland, savanna and sand forest ecosystems visitors treasure intimate, up-close elephant interactions experienced practically nowhere else in the world. But what makes Tembe even more important is that its breeding herds carry the strongest reservoir of the Big Tusker gene in Africa.

Hunted relentlessly across the continent, there are today fewer than 30 true Big Tuskers alive, most of these are in the Tsavo region of Kenya, but 12 of the most magnificent tuskers are found in the swamp, savanna and woodland of our precious Tembe Reserve. In fact, international elephant experts, like Dr Marais, have identified the elephant population of Tembe as the most significant repository of the shrinking Big Tusker gene pool making Tembe a critical conservation focus area in ensuring that future generations get to experience the wonder and majesty of a Big Tusker in its natural habitat – a last link with the romance of old Africa.

What is a big tusker?

Boasting unique genes that lead them to produce enormous ivory of over 1,5 metres in length (weighing over 45 kg each) Africa’s Big Tusker bull elephants have become the most sought after target for the poaching onslaught in recent years. This is leading to a process of ‘unnatural selection’ favouring tuskless, or small tusked elephants.