Tembo 1 Team ready for patrol

Tembo 1 Team ready for patrol

Tembo 1 Anti-poaching Unit

Tembo 1 Anti-poaching Unit

Tembo 2 called in to a carcass spotted by aerial reconnaissance

Tembo 2 called in to a carcass spotted by aerial reconnaissance

Tembo 2 mobile field camp, personnel, and off-road vehicle

Tembo 2 mobile field camp, personnel, and off-road vehicle

Tembo 2 monitoring unit at old elephant carcass

Tembo 2 monitoring unit at old elephant carcass

Tembo 2 team monitoring an emerging Super Tusker

Tembo 2 team monitoring an emerging Super Tusker

Team Tembo Projects

Tembo Teams - Background

The Tsavo Trust (TT) works in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), through a valid Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) covering several programs and objectives across the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) including enhancing aerial and ground anti-poaching operations as well as wildlife monitoring with a special emphasis on Tsavo’s iconic “Super Tuskers”.

The TCA spans a massive 40,000 square kilometers (22,000 square kilometers of National Park alone) and harbour’s immense biodiversity. The TCA holds the single largest population of elephants in Kenya – just over 11,000 animals at the last aerial census (February 2014) – and arguably the world’s last viable population and gene pool of elephants carrying exceptionally large and long ivory.

Tembo 1 and Tembo 2

Following the death of the iconic Tusker known as “Satao” in May 2014 (via a poachers poisoned arrow), the Tsavo Trust established a mobile Tusker monitoring unit called Tembo 2 team in October 2014 as a follow on to Tembo 1 anti-poaching unit (established in June 2014).

Establishing Tembo 3 and Tembo 4 teams:

With additional funding support the Tsavo Trust plans to establish and deploy a further 2 more mobile field based monitoring teams – Tembo 3 and Tembo 4 teams. For the reasons shown above this is a vital extra component in order to tackle the ever-growing pressure on elephant populations but also essential if the big Super Tuskers of Tsavo are to survive and pass on their unique and rare ivory genes to further generations.

Tembo 3 team:

Currently Tsavo West National Park (TWNP – 9,500 square kilometers) does not have a ground-based team to monitor the big Tuskers. This is a must and deployment of Tembo 3 to TWNP working on the same basis, as Tembo 2 in TENP is a priority.

Tembo 4 team:

To relieve some of the pressure on the Tembo 2 team who attempts to cover TENP (12,000 square kilometers), it is envisaged to deploy a second Tembo monitoring team to TENP on exactly the same basis as Tembo 2. The second TENP team will be called Tembo 4.

Tembo 1

Active Anti-poaching Unit - TCA

Tembo 2

Active Monitoring Unit

Tembo 3

Proposed Monitoring Unit - Tsavo West

Tembo 4

Proposed Monitoring Unit - Tsavo East

Big Tusker Project/Aerial and Ground Units:


The table below summarizes number of hours flown, miles covered, individual big “Tuskers” observed, ivory recovered, numbers of fresh and recent elephant carcasses, numbers of poachers camps/blinds/hides and platforms, number of joint TT/KWS arrests and number of aerial responses to armed situations for 2015. 

Activity Hours Flown Miles Covered

Aerial Reconnaissance
January to December 2015

Average 74 mph low level flight

Flights carried out jointly with KWS Officers/
Rangers, thus current/live info. relayed to
 ground units for action


Monthly Average
January to December 2015

 Average of 47.25 hrs per month Average of 3,489 miles per month 
 Big "Tuskers"   No. Observed
January to December 2015  

 - Iconic Tuskers: 10 different bulls (2 lost in 2015 – IR1 c of d - natural, DA1 c of d unconfirmed)
 - Emerging Tuskers: 18 different bulls
 - Iconic Cow Tuskers: 7 different cows

Total: 28 bulls & 7 cows 

Ivory recovered   No. Recovered
January to December 2015 18 tusks recovered from poached, natural and unconfirmed causes of death. All jointly recovered by TT/KWS ground teams
 Elephant carcasses   No. Observed
   Fresh  Recent
 January to December 2015 45  10 
Poachers camps and hides/blinds/platforms   No. Observed
   Fresh  Recent
January to December 2015  5  11
Arrests following illegal activity inside the Parks   No. Arrests
(Arrests made by KWS resulting from aerial observations and back up to KWS operations by TT aircraft)
Aerial responses to armed gangs and backup to KWS   No. Responses
 January to December 2015   11
(Both inside and outside the National Parks as back up to KWS)
 Notable Occurences   
  • 14 Feb 15 - Loss of Tusker DA1, ivory 51kg and 48kg recovered by KWS/TT
  • April 15 - Pilot Josh Outram started work for TT/BTP
  • May 15 – record number of individual Tusker sightings in a single month - 74
  • June 15 – support to combined KWS/Kenya Police operation in the Taita Ranches, with TT aerial back up. Over 100 arrests made
  • 27 July 15 – Locating 6 poached elephants and aerial support to KWS ground teams
  • 16 Aug 15 – Locating 20,000 cattle and bomas for KWS in TWNP – 22 arrests made
  • 14 Nov 15 – deployed new Super Cub aircraft 5Y TTZ to Tsavo Ops
  • 16 Nov 15 – donated new Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle to KWS, TWNP
  • Several occasions – avgas and diesel donations to KWS specific field Ops
  • All months – Elephant poaching well down compared to 2014
  • All months – support to KWS in all TCA rhino areas – TENP, TWNP, CHNP
  • All months – support to KWS Research and Monitoring Depts. through predator and endangered species observations – ground and air