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Female Tuskers

Jubilala (Photo by Joep Stevens)

MaMerle (Photo by Lorna Whitfield)

N’wamisejani (Photo by Dr Ian White)

N’waMndlovu (Photo by Les Roberts)


Origin of Name: Jub(a)ilala is swati meaning ‘cut the ilala palm’, referring to the cutting of palms lower down the spruit in Mozambique in earlier days (possibly for the brewing of ilala beer). This spruit is 13 km NE of Crocodile Bridge and is a tributary of the Godleni Spruit.

Range: Southern KNP.

Special Features: This cow has very unusual ivory not only does the right tusk carry very significant length for a female elephant, the tusk also grows at a complete angle to her body. The left tusk is much shorter and has a break that occurred in 2011 while not much length was lost with this break the initial sharply pointed curve has gone and the end is more rounded. Her ears are very clean with limited markings to use for identification. A small R0.50 sized hole can be seen in the right lobe just above half way, a very small shallow u-shaped nick is also visible at the top of the lobe. The left ear has two small v-shaped notches one on the lower section of the lobe the other towards the lower middle of the lobe. Most notable with this cow after the ivory is the tennis ball sized growth on the back of the front right leg in line with the body.

General: This cow was first sighted in December 2010 by Frans van Vuuren, while a very impressive cow, due to the angle of the right tusk if was felt that she would break this tusk easily and there was a reluctance to name her if this was going to be the case. No further sightings of her were received until late 2011 so it could not be determine whether our suspicions were correct.

Sightings in December 2011 by Joep Stevens and Tara Lynn Svensson confirmed our concerns, but to our surprise not as we had expected, the angled long tusk remained intact but she had broken the sharp curve of her left tusk. At this time it was decided she should be named and she has joined the ranks of the privileged few female tuskers in the large tusker status.

This cow seems to shy away from the public areas and is seldom seen, with usually only one sighting per annum but she is worth the wait if she can be found.


Origin of Name: Named in recognition of Merle Whyte, wife of retired large mammal scientist Dr Ian Whyte who also has an extended family living in Kruger and the associated private nature reserves.

Range: Tshokwane/Skukuza area

Special Features: Average length tusks, fairly thin, both tusks have been broken and have lost their curved tips. She has a medium sized square shaped notch in her right ear towards the top of the ear lobe. Deep medium sized square notch in the middle to lower area of the left ear lobe, and a notable v-shaped notch in the middle of the ear lobe as well as several small v-shaped notches on the same lobe. The right ear lobe as a prominent v-shaped notch at the top of the lobe and several smaller v-shaped notches lower down on the same lobe.

General: This beautiful elephant cow is thought to be the biggest female tusker in Kruger. She was first seen and photographed near the Sabie River high-water bridge 14th August 2004. She was also photographed during the 2004 elephant census from the helicopter. She appears to have twins of about 3-4 years old as they were with her on both occasions. MaMerle has also made the history books by being photographed with a second set of twins recently (Oct 2007) which are though to also be hers.

Merle ‘MaMerle’ Whyte: Merle Whyte (née Retief) is married to retired Large Mammal Scientist Dr Ian Whyte, they have two children, Lorna (30) who is married to Section Ranger Steven Whitfield and who currently resides in the Tshokwane section of the Kruger National Park and Neil (29), who followed in his father’s footsteps in the conservation industry. Until recently Merle and Ian resided in Skukuza, after Ian’s retirement they relocated to Graskop, where Merle still has daily contact with the Kruger National Park through her travel and tourism company Mpumalanga Promotions. She currently has five grand children.

MaTrix (Gingirikani)

Origin of Name: Named in recognition of Trix Olivier, wife of Regional Ranger Louis Olivier who has supported her husband in his professional and private capacity for 31years.

Range: Tshokwane/Satara

Special Features: MaTrix’s left tusk is considerably longer then the right tusk, reasonably thick ivory for a female tusker.

General: This female has been sighted on numerous occasions. The first recording of her was by Steven Whitfield, section ranger at Tshokwane from the Bantam light winged airplane in 2007. Upon further investigation several entries were also received in the 2006 and 2007 Emerging Tuskers Competition and the female tusker had be marked to be kept track of. Given Steven’s positive sighting of her it was decided to accelerate the naming process. MaTrix was named in 2007 after a motivation was submitted by Kirsty Redman.


Origin of Name: N’wamisejani meaning ‘clever or notorious woman’ refers specifically to this cow’s role of Matriarch in her herd and the often revered manner in which the females in the herd will project their offspring and siblings.

Range: Northern KNP.

Special Features: The tusks are the most notable feature of this cow. She has tusks that resemble MaTrix in that one tusk is considerably longer than the other and could easily be mistaken for MaTrix, however the long tusk of N’wamisejani grows at an angle to the trunk protruding slightly sideways. A shallow w-shaped notch is visible on the left ear lobe toward the upper middle. A small v-shaped notch can be seen towards the middle of the right lobe.
General: This female was first sighted in 2014/5 by Dr. Ian Whyte during a visit to the Kruger National Park, given the unusual length of the ivory on this cow and a good photographic series showing the ear markings clearly it was decided to name her.


Origin of Name: ‘N’waMndlovu’, Tsonga meaning ‘Daughter of the Elephant’ refers to this cows role within the breeding herd. The images received would indicate she is not the Matriarch but one of the more senior cows in the herd structure, possibly a potential successor to the Matriarch.

Range: Southern KNP.

Special Features: Long thin curved ivory with the right tusk seeming to have had a previous break and is shorter than the left with a more rounded end. The ears of this cow are fairly clean, there are several small w-shaped notches towards the top of the right ear lobe, the lower one being the largest of the series. A wide w-shaped notch is notable on the top of the left ear lobe when the ears are fully displayed.
General: This cow was a fairly new arrival to the tusker’s project and was not monitored long after her first sighting by Les Roberts in April 2014. Due to the exceptional length for a female elephant it was decided to name her immediately as sufficient information was available.

Several sightings have been added to her data base in 2015/6.