Network for Animals’ plan was to move a ‘big tusker’ – an elephant with very large tusks – 800 miles (1300 km) south from Tembe National Park to Addo National Park in South Africa. Once there, he would be able to breed in safety far from poachers and reintroduce the gene for tusks to Addo’s elephants (which don’t have big tusks).
Understandably, project this size and complexity can be fraught with difficulties. But after months of planning, strategizing and restrategizing, in September 2019 we were finally ready to meet the bull elephant and move him to do his job: go forth and multiply.
The lucky elephant, now named Tembe, was darted from a helicopter. A veterinary team raced to give the sleeping giant, a check-up. All was well and Tembe was hoisted onto a specially designed capture truck. The vet administered an antidote and sighs of relief reverberated around the team as Tembe clumsily returned to his feet.
After a gruelling 27 hours ride along bumpy dirt roads, Tembe finally arrived at his new home in Addo! It was an uplifting moment (applauded by everyone present) when he slowly walked down the ramp into the bush.
NFA has been monitoring Tembe constantly and he is thriving in his new home – so much so, that he already has four girlfriends!