Addo Elephant Park has a new inhabitant, and one, if spotted, will be immediately recognisable – with a shoulder height of 3.18m, tusks measuring an impressive 1.39m and weighing about six tonnes.
The 35-year-old ‘Tembe’ is the first of three bulls which will be brought in as a donation from Tembe Elephant Park in KwaZulu-Natal.
Addo Elephant Park Manager, Nick de Goede, says “Addo’s elephant numbers are currently in excess of 600 animals and it is vital that we continue to supplement the population genetically. The Park’s population is seen as a key elephant population within conservation circles nationally and internationally as it is one of the most well-researched and understood African elephant populations in the world.”
“The Tembe elephants are known for the size of their tusks and are genetically diverse from the Addo elephants, making them ideal for improving the genetic diversity within our elephant population,” continues de Goede.
Tembe appears to be adapting well, having met up and walking with two other bulls. He says they hope to get the other two bulls into Addo before the end of the year.
Tembe Elephant Park is owned by the Tembe tribe and managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The chairperson of the Tembe Co-management Board, Vusi Sithole, was present during the capture and officially handed the bull over to de Goede.
Addo Elephant Park was proclaimed in 1931 with only eleven elephants, of which seven were known to be breeding animals.
Through the eighties and nineties, various research was undertaken on these animals and it was proven that the population had experienced a serious bottleneck, which led to a loss in genetic variation.
Due to the concerns about the genetic degradation of the population, a decision was made in the early 2000s to supplement the population with eight bulls from Kruger National Park.
Unfortunately most of these bulls have since died and currently, only two are still known to be within the population.