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Kruger National Park
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Emerging tuskers - the legend continues...
The legend of the Magnificent Seven lives on in Kruger National Park through a number of animals carrying impressive ivory.
Scientists are studying these impressive animals and you can help by providing information on any tusker you see in the park. See our Emerging Tuskers Project for more details.
When a new tusker is identified we currently name it after a Ranger or other member of staff who has given many years of service to the Kruger National Park. It is traditional for rangers to be given an ethnic title by their colleagues and staff, and it is these 'nicknames' that are used for the tuskers.
Scroll down to see and read about each of these great animals.
Origin of Name: Named in memory of Gus Adendorff who served as a ranger in the Kruger National Park for 27 years. (‘Bidzane’ is Swahili and refers to the zebra skin band around the hat that Gus always wore)
Range: North of Letaba
Special Features: Large v-shaped tear/notch in the middle of the left ear lobe, notable hole approximately the size of R2 coin about 10cm below the tear. Bidzane’s ivory is not exceptionally substantial at this time, but has the potential to develop. His ivory is fairly symmetrical with the left tusk curving more then the right.
General: The existence of this bull was initially questionable as he bears a remarkable similarity to Timaka, a known bull who at a time frequented the same area. A detailed submission received in April 2006, by Ms Arks Smith, showed the identification characteristics of this bull and served to clearly highlight the very subtle difference between the two bulls and allowing his existence to be confirmed. He was named in 2007 during the judging of the 2006 Emerging Tuskers competition and was the 1st prize winner for Ms Smith in this competition. Subsequent to his naming, previous submissions thought to be Timaka were able to be distinguished through the markings as Bidzane and showed that the bull had been noted as early as 2005. Bidzane is a young bull, but definitely has the potential to become one of the substantial tuskers.
- More information: on Gus 'Bidzane' Adendorff, letter and extract from the Elephant Hall.
Origin of Name: Machachule has been named in memory of Corporal Joe Managanyi who served 33 years service for the Kruger National Park. (Machachule meaning ‘the lead dancer’ this name was given this name by his staff as he was known as a very strict worker who did not waste time and who had to do things immediately, leading by example)
Special Features: Large uneven v-shaped tear in the right ear towards the middle of the lobe, top part of the v-shape more elongated then the bottom. Left ear has a medium sized square shaped notch towards the middle of the lobe, small flap of skin directly below this.
General: Machachule, was discovered initially by Dr Ian Whyte (SANParks) in the Shingwedzi area, during the aerial census in 2004. This bull was noted as to be watched but seemed to have kept a low profile with only a few known recording of him, in 2006 by Grant Knight recorded him again during the aerial census, and a guest Jose van der Hoorn noted him in November 2005 and May 2006. This was until recently when numerous sightings were recorded in 2007, and it would seem he has now become a regular feature for guests in the Shingwedzi area. This bull was named in 2008 during the judging of the 2007 Emerging Tuskers Competition year.
Joe ‘Machachule’ Manganye: (1935 – 2005)
Joe was a long serving member of the SANParks family. Joe retired as a Field Ranger Corporal from the Mahlangene Section of the Kruger National Park in 2002, after 33 years service. He was well known a respected by all those who worked with him, staff members who remember him well, knew him for his excellent work ethic. He sadly passed away on the 14 November 2005.
Origin of Name: Named in honor of Johan Kloppers who served 36 years in conservation in the Kruger National Park (Madolo meaning ‘Knee’s’, was given to Johan due to his penchant for walking. According to staff who knew him well he inherited this name due to his unique stride when walking)
Range: Skukuza/Kruger Gate towards Pretoriuskop
Special Features: Symmetrical ivory with left tusk slightly longer then the right. Mandolo had relatively clean ears however there are small v-shaped notches in the left ear, towards the centre and lower sections of the ear lobe, a small hole below the lower notch in the left ear is also visible.
General: This bull has been seen on two occasions by the same person Mr Matthew Durell who on both occasions provided a detailed photographic series providing a comprehensive data base of this bull. This bull was named in 2008 during the judging of the 2007 Emerging Tuskers Competition and was awarded 3rd prize in the same competition.
Origin of Name: ‘Masasana’ a Tsonga word meaning ‘One can always make a plan’ was named in recognition of Johan Sithole who served the Kruger National Park in both the Conservation and Scientific Services departments in a career that spanned 35 years before his retirement on the 4th March 2008.
Range: This bull predominates in the Letaba area but has been seen at Mopani and between the Malopenyana and Middlevlei waterhole.
Special Features: This tusker has easily identifiable features that are visible from all angles. The right tusk is thicker and straighter then the left tusk and shows a very prominent ’grass’ notch in the tip of the tusk with the left tusk also having a slight notch but considerably less prominent. The left ear has a w-shaped notch that has a piece skin hanging in the middle forming the ’w’ shape towards the middle of the ear. The right ear does not have any notable features and is fairly clean edged.
General: This elephant was first sighted in May 2010, by Kirsty Redman; Jacques Saayman and Riana Harmse in the Letaba Staff Village. At the time he was found he was with known tusker Mashangaan and he was considered of sufficient interest to record at the time. No more was seen of this bull until November 2010 when he was sighted by Dr Ian Whyte (see Mastulele) between the Malopeyana and Middelvlei waterholes. This bull has since continued to be regularly seen between Mopani and Letaba.
Origin of Name: “Masthulele, meaning ‘the quiet one’ has the honor of sharing his name with Dr Ian Whyte, who was given this name by the staff he worked with.
Range: Mooiplaas/Giriyondo, this bull has however been recorded as far south as Letaba and more recently in Cleveland Private Nature Reserve to the south of Phalaborwa.
Special Features: Small v-shaped notch in the left ear towards the centre of the lobe. Masthulele has a thickened skin growth on the trunk, towards the narrowing section of the trunk. His tusks are fairly symmetrical with the left tusk curving slightly higher then the right.
General: This bulls name is very appropriate he lives up to the ‘quiet one’ reputation by being seldom seen, and had only been photographed twice at the time of naming. The first two series of photographs of this bull were both taken from the helicopter during the elephant censuses of 2003 and 2004. Both series were taken in the Tihongonyene Windmill area.
This elephant is named after the ethnic name of Dr Ian Whyte after motivation by Dr Johan Marais, Ms Kirsty Redman and Regional Ranger Louis Olivier, in July 2005.
Origin of Name: Named in memory of Piet Otto who served firstly as a helicopter pilot and later as Head of Flight and Game Capture operations in the Kruger National Park 25 years. (Mavalanga is shangaan meaning ‘one who has very good eyesight’, this refers to Piet’s exception ability to spot game on census long before anyone else for this he was dubbed “Mr Eye’s” by those who worked with him).
Range: This bull has a very large home range and has been recorded in Pafuri, around Babalala and as far South as Bangu in the Olifants Trail area.
Special Features: This bull has very substantial curved ivory. He has a notable thickening on his trunk that has a “doughnut” appearance with a definite depression in the middle. Hi right ear has a small “R2.00” sized hole towards the upper edge of the lobe as well as a small v-shaped notch with the bottom part of the notch extending past the end of the lobe line. The left ear has a prominent wide u-shaped notch below the middle area of the lobe as well as a similar shaped notch slightly above the middle of the lobe the is bisected by a small extension of skin (this is not usually visible unless the ears are open) A small “R2.00” at the tip of the ear lobe is also visible from a frontal or left side angle.
General: This elephant was first recorded by Anja Stolk in September 2008 as part of the emerging tuskers competition. Due to immense distances between locations of other submission in 2008 by Johan Marais (author Great Tuskers of Southern Africa) and in 2009 by Robert Bryden (Co-odinator Guides, Nxanatseni Region) these were originally thought to be of ‘new bulls’. Upon investigation and the recording of the identification features for Mavalanga it is now clear these are of the same bull and have served to highlight the immensely large roaming range of this magnificent tusker.
Piet ‘Mavalanga” Otto: Piet Otto started working for SANParks as a pilot based in Skukuza on the 1 May 1977. In August 1977 he married Karin and they had two daughters, Inge and Lize.
Origin of Name: Named for Lynn van Rooyen who served in conservation for South African National Park for 39 years. (Mbazo meaning ‘axe’ refers to Lynn’s early years as a ranger where he was known to lead field patrols armed only with an axe)
Range: This bull has been in the Orpen Gate area, and is also known to frequent the area around Satara and Nwanetsi and slightly north of there towards Balule.
Special Features: This bull has very unusually shaped ivory that makes him easily recognizable, with right tusk fairly straight and the left considerably curved. Two areas of thickening on the truck between the tusks are visible in all footage of this bull. No ear notches are easily visible, although a U-shaped notch exists at the extreme bottom of the right lobe alongside the neck area.
General: This bull was first recorded in December 2008 by Nicole Cordes as part of the emerging tuskers competition in 2009, and was noted as unusual. Several submissions followed subsequent to this that clearly identifies this bulls’ stomping grounds. He was recently named confirming his ‘status’ amongst the ‘new’ era.
Origin of Name: Named in honor of Ben Lamprecht who served in conservation in the South African National Park for 26 years. (Mculu is a shangaan word referring to the manner in which Ben was known to walk with his shoulders pulled up high).
Range: This bull seems to have a relatively small home range at present and is seen frequently in the immediately vicinity of the Letaba Restcamp and has also been recorded on the tar road towards Phalaborwa Gate.
Special Features: This bull has notable upright curved tusks. A prominent growth/thickening on his trunk can be observed. His ears also have very distinguishing characteristic’s, his left ear has a ragged “w” shaped notches in the middle of the lobe, while the right ear has a significant u-shaped notch in the upper lobe, as well as a small “R2.00” sized hole towards the middle to lower area of the lobe.
General: This bull was first spotted in early in 2009 by Kirsty Redman in the Letaba area, but a lack of good quality photo’s and a similarity in ear notches to known tuskers failed to determine if this was a ‘new tusker’ or one of the known bulls. A series of good photo’s taken by Richard Sowry in August 2009 allowed this bull to clearly be identified as a ‘new tusker’ as well as previously unidentified submission to be clearly identified as the know known “Mculu”.
Mculu is a relatively young bull and his home range is fairly small when compared with other tuskers, however now that his characteristic’s have been identified it will become easier to record him from submissions and to determine his home range.
Origin of Name: Named in memory of Sergeant James Maluleke who served a combined 33 years in service to the Kruger National Park. (Ngunyupezi meaning ‘one who likes to dance with woman but who will always go home at the end of the night’)
Range: Red Rocks area, between Bateleur and Shingwedzi, he has also been sighted at Babalala and more recently as far north as Pafuri.
Special Features: Left tusk is considerably longer than the right. Uniquely the left tusk has grown with the curve backwards towards the body appearing twisted and making this a very unusual elephant. Sadly, a recent sighting has shown the top of his right tusk has been broken., as this tusk was not as long as the left. Not much length has been lost with the recent break, but it would also appear the tusk is 'peeling' in some area, perhaps indicating weaker ivory. There are two distinct notches on the left ear, one shallow wide u-shaped notch close to the tip of the lobe and further up a medium square shaped notch with a loose piece of skin can be seen. Prior to 2013 this was a definite hole, but a recent sighting by Don Yunnie in 2014 show that this has been ripped open to create a square notch.
General: This bull is very shy and is seldom seen there were only two submissions of this unique elephant at the time of naming. He was first photographed by a previous employee of DataCentrix Mr Desmond Swart on the 12 March 2007. And then later by Mr AJ de Wet as part of the Emerging Tuskers competition on the 30 April 2007. Ngunyupezi was named in 2008 during the judging of the Emerging Tuskers Competition and was the 2nd prize winner in the same competition. Recently however sightings of this bull have increased and he seems to becoming a regular feature in the Shingwedzi area.
Origin of Name: Named for Uys de Villiers (Tol) Pienaar who served in conservation for South African National Park for 36 years. (Ngonyama is the Tsonga word for ‘Lion’. This nickname derives itself from an incident on the 21st July 1956 when Tol was bitten by a lioness along the Timbavati spruit (where present day Roodewal camp is). Tol was also known for his green eyes that could flash like a lion’s when angry.
Range: This bull has an average sized home range. He is known in the area between Phalaborwa and Mopani (Mayumbeni and Xilawuri Koppies) and stretches to Letaba Rest Camp.
Special Features: This elephant has very widely splayed ivory, with the right tusk appearing to be slightly longer then the left due to the curve of the left tusk but from side profile they would appear even in length. There is a conspicuous lump (or lumps) on his left backside as well as a tiny hole at the base of the left ear lobe. Some thickening on the upper truck can also be observed.
General: This elephant was first sighted by Kobie Naude on the 5th October 2008 on the tar road towards Mopani from Phalaborwa. At the time with only one submission it was decided not to name him, he was noted as an impressive bull and monitored to see if he appeared again. This was the last heard of him until December 2009 where a sighting from Christiaan Janse van Rensburg, found him in the Letaba region of the Kruger National Park. Two subsequent sightings by GVI volunteer Jasmine Brown in February and March 2010 again in the immediate vicinity of Letaba help cement his status as a large tusker and the decision was made to name him. He appears docile and does not seem to mind the presence of guests providing good sightings.
Origin of Name: Named in memory of Bruce Robert Bryden who served in conservation with South African National Park for 29 years. (Ntombazana is the shangaan word meaning ‘young lady’ this name was affectionately bestowed on him by his staff referring to his love of the ladies when he first arrived in the Kruger National Park).
Range: This bull has been recorded predominately in the Letaba and Olifants area, around the junction of the H1-5 and the S46.
Special Features: The bull has substantial and thick ivory. Ear notches are particularly prominent with notably ‘punch hole’ type notch in his left ear with a ‘R2.00’ sized hole slightly above this. His right ear has a ‘w’ shaped notch towards the upper lobe (this is a u-shaped notch with a loose skin piece dividing the area), several other ragged notches are also evident in the right lower ear lobe.
General: This bull was first recorded in 2008 by Anja Stolk as part of the emerging tuskers competition in 2009 and was recently named. Little is known about this bull as he seems to shy away from camera’s it is hoped over time footage will improve given his recent confirmed ‘status’ amongst the ‘new’ era.
Origin of Name: Named in honor of Ted Whitfield, who served as a Section Ranger in the Kruger National Park for 24 years. (Nwashinangana meaning ‘somebody that blows the animal horn’, due to his habit of whistling softly while he was working)
Range: Imbali (Mluwati) Concession, Kingfisherspruit, Tshokwane and Lower Sabie
Special Features: Very substantial thick ivory widely splayed. This bull has 2 small v-shaped notches in his right ear, towards the centre and bottom of the lobe. His left tusk is longer and less curved then the right tusk. There is a tennis ball sized growth on the left flank about 50cm from the tail of the bull. Two small notches spaced approximately 10cm apart at the top of the left ear lobe
General: This bull has been seen on numerous occasions over the last year (2007/8) and seems to be becoming on the popular tuskers to photograph. From these submissions it has been noted that this bull has a very large home range stretching from Orpen Gate to Lower Sabie Restcamp. He was recorded in 2006 and has grown substantial since then attracting far more attention in recent years. He was named in 2008 during the judging for the 2007 Emerging Tuskers competition and received 1st prize in the same competition.
Origin of Name: Named for Sgt Aaron Nkuna who served as a Field Ranger in the Kruger National Park 37 years. (Thandamamba is the zulu work for “the one who is fond of the black mamba snake / the black mamba snake lover”, this unusual name came about during a conversation with Brian Harris (ex-section ranger Stolznek), where Aaron indicated the one thing he loved most about the KNP was the snakes particularly the black mamba).
Range: This bull predominates in the very Southern area of the Kruger National Park, and has been sighted in the Malelane/Stolznek areas of the South, around the Gardenia Hide and the Mlambane confluence and is a regular visitor to the Jock Concession.
Special Features: This bull has very substantial ivory in weight and given he is a younger bull it is hoped he will continue to develop further. His ivory is fairly splayed with the left tusk lightly straighter and longer then the right. His right ear has several distinguishing ear notches, the most notable being a v-shaped tear in the middle of the outer lobe and a u-shaped notch at the based of the lobe close to the neckline.
General: This bull has been a regular sighting from the aerial census since 2007 and has been recorded by Stolznek ranger Rob Thompson. However it wasn’t until a sighting in January 2008 by Jenni Lane submitted as part of the emerging tusker’s competition that this bulls distinguishing features could be identified and therefore allow his ‘status’ as a new tusker to be confirmed.
Origin of Name: Timaka was named in memory of Lance Corporal Wilson Ndlovu who was sadly killed by an elephant in the line of duty as a Field Ranger at the Stolznek section.
Range: Dzombo windmills south of Shingwedzi
Special Features: Notable v shaped notch with inverted v-shaped section of ear on the left ear lobe, the result of a tear. A small hole in the middle of the inverted v-shaped section can be seen towards the upper middle section of the shape.
General: This elephant was only identified from photographs taken during the 2004 elephant census. He was seen in the area around the Dzombo windmills south of Shingwedzi. He appears to be a young bull and has potential as a future big tusker.
Origin of Name: Named in memory of Ampie ‘Tsotsi’ Espag, who spent many years in the service of the Kruger National Park as both a ranger and hospitality manager. (Tsotsi, meaning sneaky, trouble maker, skelm)
Range: Letaba Restcamp
Special Features: Tsosti has very symmetrical substantial weighted ivory, with the left tusk slightly more curved upwards then the right. There is a notable u-shaped notch in the right ear lobe towards the top, with a square notch approximately 15cm below this. 2 small holes approximately 5cm apart on the right ear lobe slightly below the centre part of the ear lobe, not always visible.
General: Tsotsi is a well know inhabitant of the Letaba area, who has a penchant for destroying fences around the camp and staff villages, it was for this reason that the staff felt it appropriate for him to share the name Tsotsi with Ampie Espag for his cheeky habits. He was first recorded photographically in 2004 by Kirsty Redman. At this stage while his tusks had significant weight they had not developed in length, none the less as a young bull he had the potential to develop. In the subsequent years Tsotsi has hit a growth spurt and his tusk length has almost double since he was first recorded. As a result it is felt that Tsotsi has the potential to become one of the Kruger National Parks big tuskers. Tsotsi was named in 2007 during the judging for the 2006 Emerging Tuskers Competition year.