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Media Release: KNP tusker Alexander dies of heart attack

Date: 2009-02-10

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One of the elephants with the largest tusks in the Kruger National Park (KNP), Alexander, passed away on Saturday February 7, 2009 seemingly of a heart attack.

KNP tusker Alexander dies
Mooiplaas Section Ranger Mr
Johann Oelofse showing the
distinctive hole on the right ear
that was used to positively identify
this carcass

One of the elephants with the largest tusks in the Kruger National Park (KNP), Alexander, passed away on Saturday February 7, 2009 seemingly of a heart attack.

The animal was discovered lying on its side near the T-junction two kilometres from Mopani Rest Camp by a research student, Ms Mariaan Venter, who immediately contacted the section ranger for that area, Mr Johann Oelofse.

“Upon my arrival, I found this elephant lying beside a game path a mere eight metres from the tarred surface and from the size of the tusks, I immediately realised that it must be Alexander,” said Mr Oelofse, Mooiplaas Section Ranger.

Of particular interest to conservationists and researchers alike is the short time lapse in which the carcass was discovered after the elephant died.

“After talking to a passing visitor who showed me photographs she had apparently taken ‘only a short while ago’ as they passed the elephant en route to Mopani Camp, we confirmed the time that the photograph was taken on her camera and discovered that the elephant had still been alive a mere 27min before! This was an amazing coincidence and I realised that this must be the closest the KNP has ever pin-pointed the time of death of one of the tuskers to within the hour,” he commented.

Heart and lung tissue have been removed from the carcass which will be used to establish the exact cause of death. As is normal practice, the ivory will be removed from the carcass, weighed and then stored for possible display purposes.

Visitors to the KNP are invited to participate in the Emerging Tuskers Competition by sending in their photographs of elephants with large tusks. Photographs and video material sent in by visitors are used to understand the habits and movements of tuskers in an attempt to learn more about them.

Winners, who are announced yearly, get to win a multitude of prizes which include accommodation in the KNP, books and other material and the first prize, an exclusive opportunity to accompany an elephant researcher for a day’s research in the KNP.

For more information and entry forms, look on the SANParks Website ( or enquire at the Elephant Museum in Letaba Rest Camp (013 735 6664).

Issued by:
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email:

William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communication, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email:

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