A year out in the Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa

The animals of the Tembe National Elephant Park in South Africa need volunteers willing to spend part of their year out helping to preserve the wildlife of Africa.

Incredibly, elephants are able to communicate with each other over hundreds of square kilometres. Perhaps because of the pitch of their 'voices' or the size of their ears.

But elephants unaided cannot communicate their cries to people across the planet. On their behalf Tembe Elephant Park Development Trust asks gap year volunteers to spend part of their year out helping them.

Way back in history

Two hundred years ago great elephant herds roamed freely on the African plains including the sand forests of what is now the Tembe Elephant Park - in South Africa near the Mozambique border.

The elephants migrated according to the weather and the seasons. If there was a shortage of vegetation or water in one area, they moved to another. They lived at peace with nature and with man.

Today they face a very different and threatening environment. In nearby Zimbabwe and Mozambique they are being slaughtered by their hundreds.

Gap year volunteers taking a year out can make a real contribution to their future.

Hunted with guns, decimated by land mines

Some are killed for their ivory. In Zimbabwe, many are killed by ignorant people as revenge against the starvation forced upon them by drought and an evil Government.

In Mozambique they are hunted and also decimated by land mines laid in a decade long war.

Tembe offers sanctuary

The Tembe National Elephant Park offers a sanctuary - a safe haven so important to the elephants that they injure themselves as they try to crash through high-current electric fences that protect the border between Mozambique and Tembe, which lies in the north-east corner of South Africa.

Tembe is more than a success story. The elephant population is safe, protected and growing in numbers - to the point that it's outstripping the capacity of the park to feed them. The result is a new threat - that of culling (shooting to reduce over-population).

Culling can be avoided

A threat of culling hangs over the growing herds. Two years ago a culling order was issued by the conservation authorities. But, because of the prospect of increased land, the culling order was delayed by a moratorium.

The threat of culling can be eliminated - with your help. The park can be expanded, but such expansion depends on economics - attracting more tourists so that the contribution of the Tembe Tribe is rewarded.

Visionary Tembe tribal leaders

Fortunately, the Tembe tribe (from which the park gets its name) has wise leadership. The 30000 hectare (60000 acres) Tembe National Elephant Park was proclaimed under the leadership the late Chief Mzimba Tembe in 1983.

Today, his successor, Chief Israel Tembe, and his Indunas (tribal advisors), are following in Chief Mzimba Tembe's footsteps. They appreciate the value and importance of the elephants - for today and for the future. They welcome and need the help of year out volunteers.

20000 additional hectares

Although his tribesmen are poor, he has offered to make 20000 additional hectares (over 40000 acres) available to expand the Tembe National Park. This will enable the park to cater for the elephant population growth for the next ten years.

For this hugely generous offer to be effectively realised, we need help in attracting the tourists, educating the Tembe children and patrolling the park.

If you are a planning a year out ....

You can help us help the Tembe tribe by, for example