Historically, 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 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.