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Addo Elephant National Park

Media Release: Death of biggest tusker in Addo

On Thursday, 22 April 2010, numerous visitors to Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) witnessed a fight between two elephant bulls that resulted in the death of the Park’s biggest tusker, Skukuza. Skukuza was one of eight Kruger National Park (KNP) elephant bulls relocated to AENP five years ago.

His age is estimated at 47-years-old and he was killed by another Kruger bull, Paul. Paul, in his mid 30’s, was also relocated to Addo five years ago, but a few months after Skukuza had arrived here. The reason for the relocation of the Kruger elephants to Addo is to improve the gene quality of the Addo elephants and the eight were chosen for their good genetics. Genetic diversity is essential for a healthy population.

Shortly after arrival, Skukuza lost his right tusk, which fell off and was not as a result of fighting but rather due to being damaged during the journey down from Kruger National Park (KNP). He was known to be a placid elephant and never showed aggression towards other elephants or tourists. He also fathered numerous offspring in Addo. During the last few years he was known to prefer living in the southern section of Addo Main Camp, in Wayne’s Valley.

Unfortunately, younger bull, Paul, is at an age where bulls will challenge the older bulls for dominancy and especially when in musth during mating season. During musth, elephant bulls can become highly aggressive towards each other. Numerous visitors to the Park saw elephant bull Paul chasing Skukuza around for an entire afternoon before his death. When Skukuza fell down, Paul delivered the final blow by thrusting his tusk into Skukuza’s brain. Although this is an upsetting event for people to watch and to hear about, one has to accept that this is natural behavior in animals and is not unusual behaviour.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Enquiries:
Mandy Roets, Regional Marketing Manager – Frontier Region, Addo Elephant * Mountain Zebra * Karoo * Camdeboo National Parks, e-mail: mandyr@sanparks.org

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