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Tembe - Home of the Big Tuskers

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Tembe - Home of the Big Tuskers

Elephants, the largest land mammals in the world, can be found in India, Asia, and Africa. Each continent influences the elephants that live there, resulting in different temperaments, size variations and life adaptations based on the climates, water and food sources.   Africa is home to the largest “tuskers” in the world, specifically at Tembe Elephant Park KZN WILDLIFE SITE located in the remote north-east part of the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. While the park is officially owned by the Tembe tribe, Mr. Ernest Robertse is co-owner of the camp, with people from the neighboring communities as employees. The other owner is Nkosi Israel Mabuda Tembe, holding his official capacity as Chief of the Tembe People.

The largest elephant at Tembe now is Isilo (meaning wild animal or king in Zulu), a regal and elusive huge bull elephant that has tusks estimated to be 2.6 m/8.53 ft, and weigh about 60 kg/132 lbs. Isilo, at approximately 60 years old, leads a herd that has migrated as far back as anyone can remember between Maputaland, as the region is known, and Mozambique. Being the largest elephant in South Africa, scientists agree he is more than likely the largest in the world. Over his lifetime, Isilo has experienced many changes in the territory he calls home. Civil war would have found him hiding for survival, as many of his kind were shot and slaughtered to feed the fighting men. Isilo would have been among those herds that fled south to escape across the South African border. They found refuge in what in 1983 was declared the Tembe Elephant Park, established in hopes of protecting these huge animals.

Isilo, (pictured here) along with most of the elephants at Tembe, is very shy and avoids the camera if possible. While the majority of the elephants have accepted the game drive vehicles as nonthreatening, they can still disappear into the bush as quickly as any other animal that doesn’t want to be seen. As with most elephants, they are inquisitive and stubborn at times. Isilo has developed a fondness of going where ever he chooses, and on occasion pushes down the perimeter fence around the camp and wanders through, reminding the visitors that this is his territory, he’s just allowing us to visit. Respecting his age and authority, he isn’t chastised by the Tembe folks; they just put the fence back up and know he’s going to come back again whenever the mood strikes him.
The Tembe cam allows us to view some of the biggest tuskers in the world. These older elephants carry with them many years of elephant adventures and ultimate wisdom. While their huge tusks tell us they are magnificent animals, one can only wish they could tell us some of their amazing stories from years gone by.

Isilo, the king of elephants, wise as they come, and smarter than most, has claimed the title of the largest elephant in the world. If he could understand those words I’m not sure he would be too impressed, as in his mind I’m sure he’s been the king for a long long time, not needing our label to make him feel good. 
And yes, for you that are Facebook fanatics...Isilo has his very own page: