Reward for return of stolen ‘magnificient’ tusks

2014-04-11 00:00

INKOSI Mabhudu Tembe of the Tembe Elephant Park in Maputaland near Kosi Bay has offered a R100 000 reward for the return of the “magnificent” tusks of the ele­phant bull Isilo to his clan.

Isilo (King in Zulu) died of natural causes a few weeks ago, but his huge tusks have been stolen.

The chief said rhino poachers who are “always sneaking around Tembe” are believed to have come across the decomposing carcass of Isilo, taken the tusks and fled to Mozambique.

Tembe said Isilo was definitely not poached, because there were no bullet wounds on his carcass. He was 58 and had not much longer to live anyway.

“We were so shocked when we found his carcass and the tusks were missing.

“It’s our natural heritage,” an upset Tembe said yesterday.

Ernest Robbertse, the tourism manager at Tembe, said Isilo’s tusks were the largest in South Africa. He estimated that they were both more than three metres long. The right tusk weighed about 65 kg and the left 60 kg.

“We are very sad about Isilo’s death. He was world famous and had his own Facebook page with several thousand followers. We knew he would die sooner or later, but the biggest loss is his tusks,” said Robbertse.

He and Tembe said they suspect the tusks are on their way to Maputo from where they will be shipped to the Far East, the world’s biggest market for ivory.

Tembe said he has e-mailed the Mozambique crime intelligence unit to alert them to the theft. “I told them we want our elephant’s tusks back.” However, he has not heard from the authority.

He said he had planned to offer the tusks for display at the King Shaka Airport. “Think how much it would mean for South African tourism,” he said.

Robbertse said Tembe’s 200 ele­phants have the biggest tusks of all South Africa’s elephants.

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