The history

Elephants migrated freely between Southern Mozambique and the former Northern Maputaland (now referred to as the northern part of uMkhanyakude District), South Africa, until 1983. During that year, the local chief on the South African side (iNkosi Tembe) anticipated that elephant migration from Mozambique could become a security problem for his people and in an effort to pre-empt a crisis, decided to proclaim the Tembe Elephant Park, an area measuring approximately 30,000 hectares under his jurisdiction on the South African side of the border. Fencing began in in 1984. 


The Result

The result of this action was that the natural elephant migration route was disrupted and the elephant herd divided between the two countries. The elephants on the South African side and other wildlife were confined to the 30,000 Ha Tembe Elephant Park under a protected environment.

On the Mozambique side however, the civil war that ended in 1992 had a devastating effect on the elephant population. Poaching and the harassment of elephants continued after the war, for myriad reasons. Compounding the problem was the increase over the last decade of human settlements along the Maputo River, and the effects of a fence constructed by the Mozambique authorities in an effort to allow people to cultivate crops along the banks of river.


The Consequences

Elephants on the Mozambique side of the border sought an alternative water source within the Tembe community on the South African side, adjacent to the Tembe Elephant Park. The elephants easily cross over into the South African side because of the weak fence that separates Mozambique and the Tembe community, and routinely cause crop damage. There are approximately 300 households that are directly affected by this conflict. Until recently, South African authorities were dealing with the situation in a barbaric manner by shooting elephants but the community resolved to seek alternative solutions and formally engaged in early 2015 for an ERP project designed to reduce the human-elephant conflict in the region. 


The solution

Providing mitigation methods to make allowance for peaceful coexistence of people and elephants through:

  • Provision of improved security fencing

  • Deployment of beehives which are a deterrent for elephants and economic opportunity for the local people

  • Providing alternative water sources for elephants to prevent them crossing into community territory
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Future phases of the overall intervention in the region will include but not be limited to the following:

  • Establishment of a corridor for elephant migration, by joining Tembe Elephant Park with a secure Mozambique reserve
  • Other non-agricultural local economic development activities for the Tembe community
  • Bolstering of anti-poaching mechanisms