Because of MAC’s 10th tracking anniversary I like to inform you a bit more about this unique giant and one of the biggest tuskers in Kruger at the moment.
MAC had been collared first in May 2002 during his musth period.
His first collar was sponsored by Tony McClellan (pronounced Tony Maclellan) , hence the origin of his name.
MAC has been tracked by STE (Save The Elephant) organization over the years and they have learned a lot by tracking several bulls and cow’s.
Question is …what did they learn ?
MAC likes to travel a lot and follows his annual must journeys from the northern regions of Kruger NP (Mopani – Shingwedzi area) to the associated private nature reserves (ANPR Timbavati – Umbabat area).
MAC has experienced, with remarkable consistency, his annual musth cycles between April and July each year. His movements south when in musth and then north again after dropping out of musth have led to temporal traces of movements marked by large changes in latitude with relatively small changes in longitude.
Overall, the temporal trace of the past decade reads like the electrocardiogramm (ECG) pattern of a healthy individual in his breeding prime !
The only ‘abnormal blip’ in his usual routine is easily detectable in 2007 when he failed to come into musth because of a severe case of ulcerative pedodermatitis which limited his movements for more than four months (refer to the shaded area in the figure below).
About MAC’s tusks:
Measurements of his tusks during collaring operations have indicated that Mac’s tusks have increased in weight by at least 1.36kg (3 lbs) per year per side.
In August 2010, when STE fitted MAC’s latest collar, they had the opportunity to take a molar impression to estimate MAC’s age and they estimated him to be 55 (plus or minus 4 ) years old.
Although MAC can now be considered a fairly old gentleman, he again graced STE with his presence this year when he came to visit the APNR in full musth.
STE has observed that initially when MAC first started visiting the APNR for his annual musth cycle, he kept his movements to the Timbavati and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves. Over time, he gradually started moving into the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve.
During this year’s musth cycle, he spent most of his time in the Klaserie (refer to the red tracks for his latest musth cycle in the figure below). STE are left to wonder whether MAC has learnt to start using new potential breeding grounds over time. Did it take him a number of years to shake off his memory of where the fences separating the Klaserie from the Umbabat and Timbavati Private Nature Reserves were when he first started exploring these regions?
It has been rewarding to get glimpses into MAC’s world, afforded to STE by his collars. STE are proud to announce that he is known as one of the longest and largest tusked, continually monitored elephants in Africa today.
MAC has rewritten the textbooks with his home range of over 7000km2. He has provided STE with insights into how bulls’ tusks increase over time, how injuries and the loss of body condition can influence musth cycles and how breeding ranges can shift over time.
All info provided by STE, with thanks to Michelle Henley
A personal note:
MAC was the first big tusker I ever met in Kruger NP and inspired me to start the Big Tusker site.
I met him two times during my trips, first in 2006 along the Old Main road close to Tihongonyeni and second time in 2010 at this same Tihongonyeni waterhole.
Weird maybe , but I was standing there…no other cars around and looking through my binoc’s I saw a big bull coming closer, I could not see any details but saw some big tusks….so waiting and waiting …finally I could see the collar and an Ohhhh Yessss was next thing I produced recognizing my friend MAC
With difficult backlight I could make some pictures and this is one of them…
Also special for me to read that MAC is of my age (55) … so he roams the wider Kruger from around 1957
Keep going my friend.
Last tracking info tells he is moving north , probably between Letaba and Mopani heading Tihongonyeni area…
If you are there or going there…pay attention and please let me know if you could make pictures of him.