Masbambela really was extremely relaxed on this occasion, considering that he rarely ventures close to tourist roads: we were parked only metres away from him for more than half-an-hour without him showing any agitation at all. He is HUGE!!!!
Very sad news: Masbambela is dead.
I read about it week before last in the Kruger Park Times (paper version). The online article can be found here
Kruger Park Times wrote:
Big Tusker Dies
A giant has fallen. The mighty elephant known as Masbambela has died in the Mponda block of the Woodlands section of the Kruger National Park (KNP). Field rangers found his carcass during a routine foot patrol on November 7, 2006, before even vultures had settled on the body.
According to section ranger David Manganye, Masbambela had been seen shortly before his death, and there are no indications that his death was from anything other than natural causes. From the spoor around the carcass, it looks like Masbambela went down and struggled to get up for a time before finally dying.
Masbambela’s tusks have been retrieved and sent to the ivory storehouse at Skukuza. His left tusk was a whopping 2.64 metres long, while his right tusk was slightly shorter at just over two metres. Both tusks were almost half a metre in circumference.
His tusks were thought to be the second largest set sported by an elephant in Kruger, with Duke having the most impressive ivory of all the elephants currently living in Kruger. Masbambela was not well known to tourists, as he spent most of his time west of Shingwedzi. Even Kruger’s elephant expert, Dr Ian Whyte, had only seen him a couple of times, usually from the air during the annual census.
However, David Manganye reports that earlier this year Masbambela started spending more time in the vicinity of his ranger post, and that between himself and the rangers they usually spotted Masbambela about once a week. Masbambela, which means ‘one who can stand his man’, was named after former section ranger Ben Pretorius who worked for Sanparks as a section ranger for more than 35 years.
For more than 20 of these 35 years, Ben worked in the Shingwedzi and Punda Maria sections where Masbambela also made his home. Ben Pretorius was well known by his staff for his physical strength and ability to work hard, resulting in his nickname of Masbambela.
He was involved in the planning and developing of the wilderness trails in the KNP, and almost single-handedly built the Napi Trails camp. He took early retirement in 2001 when the park was restructured, and passed away in 2002.
for one of DDW's photos. They were also shown on 50/50 in July of this year.
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