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Past Tuskers

All of the Magnificent Seven, who were born in the 1920s and 30s, have now passed away. They were followed by a number of other great tuskers, including the bearer of the heaviest tusks recorded in Kruger, who have also now passed on.

Alexander (Photo by Stuart Bassil)

Bububu (Photo by Angela Gaylard)

Duke (Photo by Marie de la Hunt)

Gida-Gida (Photo by Anja Stolk)

Gomondwane (Photo by FW Schenk)

Hlanganini (Photo by Kirsty Redman)

Letaba One (Photo by Paul Funck)

Mabarule (Photo by Johan Marais)

Mahlati (Photo by MJ Vermooten)

Mambrrr (Photo by Johan Marais)

Mandleve (Photo by Darryl Balfour)

Mandhevhu (Photo by Michelle Henley)

Masorini (Photo by Stuart Bassil)

Masbambela (Photo by Johan Marais)

Mashagadzi (Photo by Dr Ian Whyte)

Mashangaan (Photo by Robert Bryden)

Massunguine (Photo by Trevor Fourie)

Masthulele (Photo by Dr Ian Whyte)

Mazithe (Photographer unknown)

Mculu (Photo by Richard Sowry)

Mlondozi (Photo by Johan Marais)

Muliluane (Photographer unknown)

Nhlangulene (Photo source: Letaba Elephant Hall)

Oscar (Photo by Dr Ian Whyte)

Phelwana (Photo source: Letaba Elephant Hall)

Shipandani (Photo by Keith Begg)

Shishangane (Photographer unknown)

Spirowiri (Photographer unknown)

Tshokwane (Photographer unknown)

Tshilonde (Photographer unknown)

Xamariri (Photo by Keith Begg)

Xilowa (Photo by Keith Begg)

Alexander (7 February 2009)

Origin of Name: Named in recognition of Professor Stuart Saunders, who has contributed significantly to research in the Kruger National Park.

Range: Mopani area, often close to the restcamp.

Special Features: Characteristic hole in the right ear lobe, approximately the size of a R5.00 coin. U-shaped notch in the same ear lobe towards the middle area. Square shaped notch in the bottom area of the left ear lobe. Alexander has fairly symmetrical ivory that is not overly substantial in length, but is substantial in the weight of the tusks.

General: This bull appears to be very docile and is seen regularly by staff and guests in the Mopani area. He also appears to be relatively young and so would seem to have potential for considerable tusk growth in the years to come.

Professor Stuart Saunders: Alexander was given this name to recognize the work of Prof Stuart Saunders who was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, and who has since contributed significantly to the research programs in Kruger through the Mellon Foundation. The family name Saunders is said to be traceable back to and derived from Alexander the Great whose emblem was the elephant, as is the crest of the Saunders family.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 233.5cm 244cm
Mass (kg) 49.05kg 51kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 50.5cm 50.5cm

Bububu (October 1998)

Origin of Name: This bull was named after the Bububu Spruit and windmill, where he was regularly seen. (Bububu meaning ‘the rumbling of flood waters’).

Range: Shangoni Section in the North Western area of the KNP.

Special Features: Bububu had a long and straight right servant tusk and a broken shorter left master tusk. He also ha a notable large tear in his left ear.

General: Bububu was rarely seen because of the remoteness of the area in which he roamed, and due to the fact that there are no tourist roads in this area.


Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Duke (1 October 2011)

Origin of Name: Duke is named for the ranger Thomas Duke who was based at Lower Sabie between 1903 and 1923. A windmill which this bull frequents shares the same name.

Range: This large and docile animal roams in the South of the Kruger National Park between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge Rest Camps, these area’s dominating his home range, he has however been known to roam as far north as Tshokwane and the Metsi Metsi Trails camp.

Special Features: Small square notch in the left ear towards the bottom of the ear lobe, with a small hole slightly above this to the outer edge of the ear lobe. Until recently Duke had fairly straight substantial and long ivory. He has recently broken both his tusks about 20cm from lip line.

General: Duke was until recently one of the largest of the tuskers in KNP. Duke is still probably the most photographed of the big tuskers, as he seemed to thrive on human attention and was regularly seen along the tourist roads and hides in his home range. He was well known for his relaxed disposition and was a favourite amongst staff and guests most of whom all have had a personal interaction experience to tell of this well known bull.

In August 2007 Duke sadly broke his left tusk in an attempt to uproot a Leadwood tree, luckily this was reported by forum member Jonathan Heger (also a participant in the ‘duke quest’ which raised funds by forum members for the purchase of 2 cyber trackers for the rangers of the Kruger National Park) who had seen Duke at around 4pm fairly close to Crocodile Bridge and when returning to camp just after 5pm noted that he no longer had 2 tusks, this small time line allowed the section ranger at Crocodile Bridge (Neels van Wyk) to react immediately to retrieve the ivory which is now safely stored in the ivory stores in Skukuza.

Duke broke his last remaining tusk on the 1st of September 2008, he was spotted by the Mpanamana Concessions early morning game drive. Crocodile Bridge Section Ranger Neels van Wyk went to investigate and confirm that it was in fact Duke, sadly it was Duke who now has broken both his magnificent tusks in attempts to uproot trees. Luckily through quick action from Neels and his team they were able to follow Duke’s spoor in an attempt to retrace his steps to hopefully find the missing piece. Luckily after a short distance they were able to retrieve the broken piece of ivory.

On the 16th April 2010, Duke was successfully fitted with a radio collar. This process was made possible due to the absence of his large ivory which would normally have hinder an attempt like this making it impossible for the large bull to stand up again after the sedative. It is hoped this collaring will allow the rangers to get an accurate reading of his home range as well as ensuring that his carcass was recovered with the remaining ivory when he passed away.

Sadly Duke passed away on the 1st of October 2011. On the 6th October Johan Marais (author of the ‘Great Tuskers of Southern Africa) was visiting the Kruger National Park and had requested the the current radio collar location of Duke from the Crocodile Bridge section ranger Neels van Wyk as he wished to photograph the bull. Upon checking the location of Duke, it was noted that the collar signal had stayed in one place for several days since last seen check and seen. Neels van Wyk, followed the signal along the Makambeni spruit west of the S28 tourist road about five kilometres from Crocodile Bridge camp and eventually found Dukes approximately five day old carcass along the Makambeni stream. According to the collar information he remained in one place from the evening of the first of October. No signs of a fight struggle were evident due to heavy rains on previous nights and the death was considered to be natural although the exact cause cannot be determined. Duke was estimated to be between 52 and 55 years of age at the time of death.

Duke’s tusks were removed and added to the broken pieces already on record in the KNP stores. A remarkable length and weight was recorded when the recordings from both pieces were added together (the tusks were no re-joined) suggesting a possible record in length only of one of the tusks. However after considerable consultation with experts in the field it was agreed that an official record would not be awarded to Duke given the breaking of the tusks. This was due to the reality that the remaining pieces were able to grow uninhibited in his remaining years since the break. Dukes tusks were on the ground at the time of the breaks and from previous evidence from other tusks with similar shapes these would have continued to wear down over time and the final length in this situation cannot be deduced unlike with tuskers such as current record holders Shawu and Mandleve who carried their full ivory at the time of death. (see extract below from Dr Johan Marais who is an expert in tusker and who knew Duke well over the years).

This certainly does not take away from the magnificent nature of this bull and he will be sorely missed as one of the most well know and gentle of the new era of Great Tuskers in the Kruger National Park.

Duke joins the likes of Bububu and Hlanganini as unique in that their tusks were broken before death and all pieces were recovered.

Tusk Data Left (1) (Broken piece) Left (2) (Broken piece) Right (1) (Broken Piece) Right (2) (Broken Piece)
Length (cm) 175cm 146cm 156cm 133cm
Mass (kg) 37.05kg 33.2kg 32kg 31.9kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 49cm 50cm 49cm 50cm

Gida-Gida (4 July 2012)

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Sgt. Jan Mdluli who served 30 years of loyal service as a field ranger in the Kruger National Park. Gida-Gida is short for the Shangaan expression, Gida-gida nkondzo was Ndlopfu, meaning ‘the one with feet the size of an Elephant’s’ due to the fact that he wears a size 12 shoe.Range: Letaba

Special Features: This tusker, shows very similar diagnostic ear features to Tsotsi, another bull that can be found in the Letaba area. What is notably different is no square notch under the larger u-shaped notch on the upper right ear lobe which can be seen on Tsotsi. The tusks are similar in shape although with Gida-Gida, there is less notable weight in the ivory than with Tsotsi, and a very prominent ‘grass’ notch is very visible at the tip of the left tusk on this bull and a less prominent one on the right tusk, which can only be seen from certain angles.

General: This bull was first noted in May 2011 by Louis Olivier (Regional Ranger, Nxanatseni South) who had seen him in the Letaba River close to the restcamp and initially thought he was seeing Tsotsi. The tusker was carefully examined as the tusks were not as substantial in weight as expected for Tsotsi. A sighting a little more than a week later by the 2009 Emerging Tuskers Competition Winner, Anja Stolk in which a full series of photos showing unique characteristic’s was provided and confirmed we had a ‘look alike’ with only a few differing features.

Sadly Gida Gida was lost on the 4th of July 2012 and investigation of the tusks and carcass confirmed that this was in fact the popular tusker from the Letaba area. Gida Gida had not yet reached his prime as a large tusker but was growing considerably and had the potential to be a prominent tusker of the area.

  • Jan ‘Gida-Gida’ Mdluli: Sergeant Jan Mduli began his career in the Kruger National Park in 1960 and served 30 years as a field ranger contributing greatly to conservation until his retirement in 1990. In his time in the Kruger National Park, Sgt Mduli’s hard work and commitment saw him progress through the field ranger ranks from Lance Corporal, to Corporal and eventually Sergeant. In this time he served at several rangers sections including, Pretoriuskop, Skukuza, Olifant’s, Vlakteplaas and finally at Shingwedzi where he stayed until his retirement.
Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 201cm 232cm
Mass (kg) 36.35kg 38.5kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 46cm 46cm


Origin of Name: Named after the Gomondwane waterhole, found halfway between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge on the H4-2 (According to Stevenson Hamilton, the name was that of as person who lived in the area in 1906. Kloppers & Bornman (2005).

Range: Crocodile Bridge/Lower Sabie areas of the Kruger National Park.

Special Features: Short left master tusk with a rather long straight right tusk.

General: Not much is known about this elephant, he was first recorded by guests to the Kruger National Park in 1992, and subsequently occasionally seen during the annual aerial census in the Southern Region of the Kruger National Park.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Hatlani (carcass discovered 15 October 1999)

Origin of Name: ?

Range: Letaba Restcamp and later the Mooiplaas section of the northern Kruger National Park.

Special Features: Hatlani had a straight right tusk, with a shorter curving left tusk. His tusks are strikingly similar to those of the also deceased Mabarule.

General: Hatlani died mysteriously a short time after making is debut in the Mooiplaas section of the Kruger National Park. He had been seen on the Sunset drive by guests on the 14th October 1999, at the T-Junction to the Mopani restcamp. His carcass was discovered the following morning in the same position. He is believed to have died as the result of an encephalomyocarditis induced heart attack. It was only after his death that rangers discovered the presence of Mabarule a virtual ‘ghost’ of Hatlani was also roaming in the Mopani area. Subsequent to this discovery many photo’s previously identified as Hatlani were discovered to actually be early records of Mabarule.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) 51.6kg 52.4kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Hlanganini (carcass discovered 27 August 2009, estimated to have been dead for 2 months)

Origin of Name: Named for the Hlanganini Spruit (meaning “at the reeds”) where he was first seen. This spruit has its confluence with the Letaba River at Letaba Rest Camp.

Range: Olifants/Letaba

Special Features: Characteristic tear in his left ear lobe given the appearance of a ‘half’ ear. Hlanganini has substantial symmetrical ivory. There is a small growth of the left side of the bulls stomach towards the lower reaches of his abdomen, with several similar sized growths on his front left leg.

General: Hlanganini is currently the largest known tusker in the Kruger National Park that still has both his tusks. He is a fairly old bull and is being closely monitored as a result.

Sadly a report was received on the 5 March 2009 from Jacques Saayman (field guide @ Letaba) that Hlanganini has broken approximately 30cm off his left tusk. Field Rangers have been patrolling the area where it was first noted that he had broken his tusk and little hope was help that the piece would be located. Miraculously the broken piece was recovered on the 19th June 2009 by Mr Andrew Desmet who was conducting guide training in the area and who handed the piece in to local ranger Mr Joe Nkuna. The piece was located at the mouth of the N’wanetsi Spruit, north west of Letaba.

News was received on 27 August 2009 via sms from Louis Olivier (Regional Ranger, Nxanatseni South) who was flying the annual elephant and buffalo census, that the carcass of Hlanganini had been found 10km south of Letaba, the carcass was well worn and appeared to be around 2 months old. This estimation ties in with the last sightings of Hlanganini by staff in mid May and early July 2009. He had been seen numerous times by staff and guests from February 2009 and May 2009, between the Letaba landing strip and the Letaba River this being away from his usual territory between Letaba and Olifants.

Initial thoughts were of a natural death or EMC as he was an older bull. Upon closer investigation of the carcass it would appear that Hlanganini died in a brutal bull fight as there are several puncture wounds on his head area, many of which on the left side were forceful enough to fracture the skull and cause severe injury. This being evident the position in which he was found on his hind knees would appear to have been the manner in which he fell and not an attempt to get up as previously thought.

Dr Ian Whyte estimated him from his teeth status to be approximately 52 years of age.

This is a very sad loss for the KNP as the last big tusker is lost; the new generation has some time before it will reach the status of the old generation.

Tusk Data Left Left (Broken Tusk) Right
Length (cm) 204cm 63cm 270cm
Mass (kg) 45.03kg 4.05kg 55.80kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 50cm 29cm 49cm

Letaba One (1980s)

Origin of Name: This bull was named after the Letaba River in the Northern Section of the Kruger National Park, where he was regularly seen.

Range: Letaba Restcamp and surrounding areas.

Special Features: His left tusk was long and curved, however his right tusk was broken off fairly close to the lip line. He also had a large rounded patch of smooth skin on his trunk.

General: This bull was first recorded in 1979 and was already an old elephant at that stage. He was a docile bull, who was known for repeatedly invading the Letaba Restcamp. Sadly this bull was poached in the 1980’s when poaching from Mozambique was at its worst. This docile creature was shot and killed alongside the Engelhard Dam close to the Restcamp and had, had his tusks removed.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Letaba Two (date unknown)

Origin of Name: This bull was also named after the Letaba River in the Northern Section of the Kruger National Park, where he was regularly seen.

Range: Letaba Restcamp and surrounding areas.

Special Features: Perfectly matched tusks, of approximately 52kg each.

General: This bull was also first recorded in 1979 however he was a much younger bull then his counterpart at the time Letaba One. He was immobilized in 1982 and fitted with a radio collar to track his movements. Unfortunately the collar became defective for no reason and it was decided not to replace it. The bull was not seen again.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Mabarule (carcass discovered 10 November 2004)

Origin of Name: During 1999 the Field Rangers and Conservation Students at Mooiplaas started referring to this elephant as “Mabarule” after their Section Ranger Johann Oelofse’s Tsonga nickname. Johann was so named by his fellow workers due to the size 14 boots in which he patrols his section and after an old Shangaan Chief from the olden days in Mozambique. This Chief Mabarule apparently had conspicuously large feet. (Mabarule meaning ‘Big Feet’)

Range: Mooiplaas section, Nshawu Vlei/Mopani area, he was regularly spotted at the Mooiplaas, Tihongonyeni, and Bowerskop windmills

Special Features: Mabarule had a straight right tusk, with a shorter curving left tusk. He had prominent worn, upturned and cracked toe nails on both his front feet.

General: Mabarule who was first sighted in the Mopani area in 1999 was a very docile animal who showed little aggression. and over the handful of years that he roamed the Mooiplaas Section a close relationship evolved between this elephant and Section Ranger Johann Oelofse and he came to describe him a true “gentle giant” with extremely little to no aggression in him. Johann Oelofse will often recall many special moments spent in very close proximity to the elephant, with “Mabs”, as he would fondly call him, quietly tolerating his presence.

He was frequently seen and photographed by guests. There was initial confusion regarding this bull when he first appeared on the scene, as a similar bull by the name of Hatlani was already roaming in the same area with virtually identical ivory, it took the death of Hatlani on the 16/10/1999 and the movement of Mabarule into the Mooiplaas area to establish that many of the Hatlani sightings were in fact early sightings of Mabarule.

Mabarule died circa 5th November 2004, of apparently of natural causes. His carcass was found on the 10/11/04 with the tusks still in place.

Examination of Bones: An later examination of his bones has revealed arthritic calcification between several of the vertebrae, the joint formed by the skull and the atlas, or first cervical vertebra as well as the fused calcified mass of the 5 neck vertebrae told a tell of what must have been severe pain in his later years. In spite of this, he was an extremely docile elephant who was often seen and photographed by tourists. According to the condition of his molar teeth he was estimated to be between 55 and 56 years old when he died.

One of his more notable habits that was identified after his passing was his continual utlisiing of the cement reservoirs as a drinking source. Most large tuskers cease to use these as a source of water due to the weight of their ivory, however until his death Mabarule continued with this habit and as a result his ivory has well worn flat patches on the underneath due to the abrasive nature of the cement on which he dragged his ivory in order to enjoy a drink of water.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 257cm 278cm
Mass (kg) 48.8kg 54.2kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 46cm 48cm

Mac – APNR (carcass discovered 31 October 2013, estimated dead 14 days)

Origin of Name: Mac was first collared as part of a ‘Green Hunt’ in May 2002 during one of his musth periods. His first collar was sponsored by Tony McClellan, hence the origin of his name.

Range: Timbavati/Klaserie and Umbabat Private Reserves adjoining the KNP. This bull however is known for his extensive wanderings and is a regular feature as far north as Shingwedzi and Mopani as well as in the Letaba and Phalaborwa areas.

Special Features: Mac could be easily recognized by the fact that he wore a radio collar. He had fairly symmetrical ivory. There was a prominent wide u-shaped notch in his left ear towards the middle of the lobe. In the same ear there was a large and wide v-shaped tear at the bottom of the ear lobe. In the right ear lobe there was a wide v-shaped notch in the top part of the ear lobe, with a smaller same shaped notch towards the lower to middle area of the lobe.

General: : Mac was well known as one of the longest, large tusked bull that had been continually monitored in Africa, he has provided valuable new information with his home range of over 7000km2. He has provided the APNR team with valuable information on tusk growth, how injuries can influence musth cycles and how breeding ranges can shift over time.

Mac was re-collared in August 2010 and at the time a molar impression was taken to estimate Mac’s age and at the time it was concluded according to Laws that he was 55+/-4 years old. This put him into the older bull category. In July 2013 Mac’s collar had ceased working and there was uncertainty given his tusk size if it would be possible to replace this. SANParks staff who are aware of the bull and who work on the tuskers project were asked to monitor his movements and report any sightings of him to Michelle Henley. His last readings showed him to be north of the Umbabat in the Olifants Rugged veld on the 28th July 2013.

Sadly the carcass of Mac was discovered on the 31st October 2013 by the SANParks anti-poaching team who were flying over the area in the SANParks helicopter towards the Vlakteplaas section. His carcass was found just off the S131 towards Mingerhout Dam in-between the tourist road and the N’wanetsi Spruit. His tusks were fortunately still in place and were recovered by the Phalaborwa Sections Field Rangers. Upon recovery it was noted the bull had a collar, this was retrieved at the same time and sadly the frequency given by Karien Keet (Section Ranger Phalaborwa) was that for Mac which has been given my Michelle Henley from Save the Elephants.

Mac’s death has been determined as natural his teeth showed signs of age, with bone development behind the final set of teeth being well progressed. It was also seen that Mac had a huge abscess in the tooth on the upper left jaw. The abscess went right down into the root canal and must have been very painful. It was also an old abscess as it was blackened and well established. It was clear that Mac was unable to chew with the left side of his jaw for a considerable time. This meant that the wear on his lower left molar was almost non-existent. On the contrary, his lower right molar was very well worn and almost smooth as well as having several cracks and chips missing. This molar was also considerably shorter due to all the wear and tear. He appears to have starved to death, or alternatively that his immune system was severely compromised due to his bad body condition after just having finished his musth cycle four months prior to his death. In addition, the area that he moved in was extremely dry and the rains did not come in time to supplement his diet with soft vegetation and the much needed forage to regain his strength, his carcass was also found a fair distance from water. There were no signs that he had food in his gut as there were no faeces in or around the carcass so it did not appear as if he dispelled his gut as most animals do upon death.

Two concerns were expressed by the vets department in regards to game disease firstly of Anthrax secondly of EMC due to the position in which that carcass had landed supporting a sudden death possibility. Samples of the soil from the mouth area and some of the soft tissue from the ribs was removed for the state vets to perform an Anthrax exam, fortunately the results were negative in this regard. EMC was ruled out at the site as which there was little effort there were signs of shallow furrows at the front feet indicating Mac did try to move himself after collapse, and that his awkward fall and position made this impossible.

“Save the Elephants” Transboundry Elephant Research Programme, Elephant Newsletter – March 2011, Michelle Henley

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 248cm 256cm
Mass (kg) 55.5kg 57.5kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 50cm 51cm

Mahlati (date unknown)

Origin of Name: Named after the Mahlati Stream, a tributary of the Ntshivana, situated in the north of the Kruger National Park. Mahlati was also the name of a chief who lived close to the stream.

Range: South East of Shingwedzi Camp.

General: This bull was first seen at the Mahlati windmill in 1991. And 1992 at the Tsumane windmill by researcher Keith Begg. He was not a well know bull and was rarely seen by guests.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Mambrrr (carcass discovered 30 March 2007)

Origin of Name: This bull was named by Dr Ian Whyte in memory of “Mambrrr” – Philemon Chauke who was a Research Assistant for many years in the Kruger National Park based in Skukuza. (The origin of his name is obscure, but it is believed to come from a locally brewed South African beverage made from peaches known as “mampoer”. The name should be pronounced with a prominent roll of the rrr’s so as to resemble an elephant greeting rumble.)

Range: Tshokwane/Skukuza area (Salitjie near the Nwatindlopfu drift).

Special Features: Small hole and notch in left ear towards the centre of the edge of the lobe, notable tear in the right ear lobe at the bottom of the ear, leaving a small flap of ear close to the body, two small v-shaped notches slightly above the tear. Mambrrr had curved tusks, largely symmetrical, with the left tusk slightly thinner, longer and more curved then the right tusk.

General: This elephant was originally photographed at Leeupan by Dave Jeffery on Wednesday 6th October 2004 and also by Louise Rademan and Tony Swemmer on 19th September 2005 along the Salitje road near the Nwatindlopfu drift. Mambrrr was thought to be a relatively young bull when he was discovered dead on the 30/3/07, and it was thought he had the potential to develop into one of Kruger’s more impressive bulls.

Extract from Tshokwane Section Ranger’s Report, Steven Whitfield

In discussion with vet Johan Marais, the indication was that the right molar in the upper jaw could have been lost as the result of a fight being dislodged by another bull or by the formation of an abscess which could have forced the tooth out. This would have made eating extremely difficult for this bull and could have contributed to the untimely death and starvation of this bull.

(Due to this bull being a named tusker, Steven Whitfield preserved the skull of this bull for possible future use in displays. The skull is currently at Tshokwane rangers post.)

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 277cm 243cm
Mass (kg) 52.40kg 46.25kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 49cm 48cm

Mandleve (carcass discovered late 1993)

Origin of Name: This bull was named by Anthony Hall-Martin and Lazarus Mangane. He was given the name Mandleve, an honor which he shared with the then section ranger of Skukuza Louis Olivier. (Mandleve is the Tsonga word for ‘Ears’) Mandleve received this name as a result of the large tear in his left ear.

Range: Skukuza in the south west of the Kruger National Park. He was also known to roam into Sabi Sabi, the private reserve adjoining the Kruger National Park.

Special Features: A horizontal V-Shaped tear in his left ear. Notably thick ivory.

General: Mandleve was first recorded as a large tusker in 1981, but was only named in 1983. Towards the end of his life he spent much of his time on the reed beds of the Sabie River. In 1990 Mandleve was seen to be in poor condition with his ribs and backbone showing, a sure indication that his molars were well worn by this stage. Mandleve died from old age and his carcass and tusks were discovered by Dr Danie Pienaar a young scientist at the time in September 1993 along the power line road next to Kruger gate Road about 10km from Skukuza. He is estimated to have died between 11/6/93 and 28/9/93 Mandleve was said to have been approx. 56 years of age at the time of his death.

Mandleve gained and still holds the title of the heaviest tusks ever recorded tusker in the Kruger National Park, surpassing Phelwane the previous holder of this honor with a combined weight for both tusks of 142,4kg.

(Mandleve’s tusks are on display in the Letaba Elephant Hall)

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 236.3cm 233.3cm
Mass (kg) 69kg 73.5kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 53cm 51.5cm

Mandhevhu (carcass discovered 27 March 2010, estimated to have been dead 5 – 6 days)

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Douw ‘Swannie’ Swanepoel who served in the Kruger National Park as a ranger from 1982 – 2001 (Mandhevhu meaning ‘beard’ was given to Swannie due to the wild red beard he always sported during his time in the Kruger National Park)

Range: 7km south of Mopani up to Shingwedzi

Special Features: Small hole in left ear lobe towards the lower middle of the lobe and he point at the bottom of the lobe, as well as small wide v-shaped a notch towards the top of the same lobe. Right tusk shows signs of being broken some time back and has since smoothed over and grown in length. From sightings by Johan Marais it would appear that one of his back legs is stiff so he walks with an audible “sleepvoet”.

General: In March/April 2008, this bull was spotted several times, the first recent submission was from Michele Henley (researcher) who tracks the famous ‘Mac’ from the Timbavati she recorded this bull associating with Mac in the Mooiplaas area. On the 1st April section ranger Johann Oelofse (Mooiplaas) managed to photograph the same bull in the surrounding area and was curious as to the identity of the bull, as he is a frequent visitor to Mooiplaas. Coupled with a guest submission at the same time it was decided to immediately name the bull and to continue to monitor him.

Upon further investigations a bull previous labelled as unknown in the Shingwedzi area shares the same characteristics as Mandhevhu and was sighted as far back as October 2004. However, in these recordings the break in the tusk was considerably newer. It is thought that this could be the same bull, unfortunately records from then do not show identifiable ear markings so ID cannot be confirmed.

In 2009, sightings of this bull increased and he seemed to enjoy the public attentions and submissions increased dramatically as a result. The last submission received before his death showed Mandevhu in good condition in February 2010.

Sadly the carcass of Mandhevhu was discovered by Mooiplaas Section Ranger, Johann Oelofse on the 27th of March 2010, west of Mooiplaas wind pump in the stretch of bush between the windpump and the Letaba/Shingwedzi tarred road. Unfortunately the carcass was in an advanced state of decomposition so the cause of death could not be determined. Vultures alerted Johann to the presence of the carcass and at the time of discovery Mandhevhu was thought to have been dead between 7 – 10 days. A later sighting submitted by S. Lawrey showed Mandevhu alive on the 21st of March 2010; this narrowed his estimated time of death to between 5 – 6 days prior to his carcass being discovered.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 2.56cm 1.98m
Mass (kg) 58.55kg 45.85kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 51.5cm 51.5cm


Origin of Name: This bull named for the Masorini Hill and archaeological site close to the Phalaborwa Gate.

Range: Masorini archaeological site and surrounding areas. More recently he has been sighted in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park.

Special Features: Very clean ears, slight large elongated u-shaped notch on the right ear towards the top of the ear lobe, indistinguishable unless the ears fully extended. Right tusk curved slightly higher then the right tusk. Thickening areas are evident on the trunk towards the middle.

General: This is an impressive bull, who is very placid but is seldom seen. After confusion as to his existence with the identification of Mastulele, he has since been considered a ‘look a like’ bull as he has been seen in the same area’s and shares very similar characteristics to Mastulele including tusk shape and size, fairly clean ears and truck thickening. Differences include the ear notch on Mastulele which has a small hole below the notch not being evident on Masorini, and after a bull fight in early 2008 Mastulele shows prominent scar areas at the top of his trunk and alongside his left tusk, in additional to the thickening they both show.

A carcass believed to be that of Masorini was discovered next to the tar road from Phalaborwa to Mopani by Mooiplaas section ranger Johann Oelofse on the 12th February 2010. Johann estimated the carcass to be as recent as a day old as all anatomy was still intact, no scavengers having damaged the carcass. Recorded features including the shape and size of the ivory and left ear notches lead to the conclusion this was Masorini and not Mastulele. This bull would appeared to have died as a result of injuries caused in a bull fight, a particularly large tusk entry wound was found on the abdomen behind the right front leg.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 241cm 260cm
Mass (kg) 54.25kg 47.55kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 49.5cm 51cm

Masbambela (carcass discovered 7 November 2006)

Origin of Name: Named in honor of ex-ranger Ben Pretorius who worked in the Kruger National Park from 1966 – 2001. (Masbambela meaning ‘one who can stand his man’)

Range: West of Shingwedzi, generally well away from the main tourist routes. He has been seen at Gumbandevu (Punda Maria) Red Rocks (Shingwedzi)

Special Features: Two very symmetrical tusks curving inward at the tips. The left tusk was broken before his death, and was detected in the 2006 census. There was a small round hole in right ear towards the middle of the lobe and Masbambela was know to have a protuberant growth on his scrotum area in later years.

General: It was estimated that Masbambela’s tusks were probably only second in size to Duke’s (before the break). The carcass of this bull was located on the 7 November 2006 in the Mponda block of the Woodlands section by then ranger David Manganye. He sadly had broken his left tusk before he died, the date of the break is unknown, but was detected in the 2006 census in August 2006. The missing piece was never recovered.

Ben ‘Masbambela’ Pretorius: (1967 – 2001): Ben Pretorius was a Section Ranger in the services of SANParks for more than 35 years before his retirement in 2001.

Tusk Data Left (Broken Tusk) Right
Length (cm) 207cm 231cm
Mass (kg) 42.75kg 49.05kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 47cm 48cm

Mashagadzi (carcass discovered 10 May 2007)

Origin of Name: Mashagadzi is named after the waterhole just south of the Shingwedzi camp, where he was often seen by staff. (The name is an historical one of someone (probably a Headman) who lived in the area in the past.)

Range: Shingwedzi Rest Camp area

Special Features: Two relatively straight tusks, with the left one being slightly shorter then the right. There was a well worn patch on the tip of the right tusk, presumably from an old break. Large tennis ball sized and shaped growth on his rear right leg. Mashagadzi had a square shaped notch on his left ear towards the middle of the lobe, and a R2.00 size hole below this slightly in from the edge of the lobe on the same ear. He also had a noticeable v-shaped wedge missing from the right ear lobe towards the top section of the ear.

General: Mashagadzi was a very docile bull and is often seen and photographed by staff and guests. He was a particularly large bull with a shoulder height in excess of 3.4m which added to the prominence of his tusks. The carcass of this bull was discovered on the 10 May 2007 a few kilometers from the Shingwedzi camp (GPS: 23º5.946 S 31º25.742 E) it was estimated that the bull had been dead approximately 3 days due to the state of decomposition. A report was received per email from a guest (Yvonne Stiglingh) by K.Redman (co-ordinator Emerging Tuskers competition) that he was in difficulty, this was conveyed to the vets and the Shingwedzi ranger at the time Agnes Mukondeleli, unfortunately the carcass had been found the morning the report had been received. Mashagadzi died of wounds received during a fight with another bull, a particularly large wound on his left shoulder was severely infected and would have been the direct cause of his death. A time line put together from photo’s submitted by guests subsequently to the carcass having been found showed the wound to have been there from around the 21st of April 2007, given this along with the date the carcass was discovered would indicated a fairly fast decline, and sadly a painful death of this magnificent animal.

Tusk Data Left (Broken Tusk) Right
Length (cm) 269cm 279cm
Mass (kg) 49.6kg 52.8kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 47cm 48cm

Mashangaan (Ma Xangane)

Origin of Name: Named in honor of Mike English, who served in conservation for 33 years as a section ranger in the Kruger National Park. (Ma Xangane, meaning ‘one who speaks Shangaan’ referring to Mikes ability to converse fluently in the Shangaan language)

Range: Letaba Restcamp

Special Features: Prominent large square shaped notch in the left ear lobe towards the top of the lobe. Right ear severely ragged, with several v&u-shaped notches along the full lobe. Left tusk longer and straighter the right tusk

General: This bull was first discovered and photographed by Kirsty Redman and Johan Marais in the Letaba Restcamp area. He has substantial ivory and has the time and ability to develop into a notable tusker. Mashangaan was named in 2008 during the judging for the Emerging Tuskers Competition and was the joint 4th place winner for the same competition.

Tusk Data Left (Broken Tusk) Right
Length (cm) 248cm 207cm
Mass (kg) 42.9kg 37.30kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 46cm 45cm

Massunguine (carcass discovered 15 May 2007)

Origin of Name: This bull was named for Phineas Maluleke, who served a notable career in the Kruger National Park as a field ranger. (Massunguine meaning ‘?’)

Range: Shingwedzi and Mooiplaas areas

Special Features: Massunguine has very well matched slightly curved tusks. He also had a swelling on the front part of his trunk towards the top which could be used to easily identify this bull. Other notable traits included his left tusk, having what is know as a tool notch at the tip, a u-shaped wedge was missing from his left ear lobe towards the top of the ear and a smaller v-shaped notch missing from the right ear, toward the bottom of the ear lobe.

General: Masunguine was first photographed from the helicopter in August 2004 in the Mahlati (Shingwedzi) area. He was a relatively young bull who had the potential becoming one of Kruger’s biggest. Sadly carcass of this bull was discovered by Mooiplaas ranger Johann Oelofse in the 15 May 2007 just south of the Dzombo West Windmill, after a report by guests that an elephant had seen a dead elephant on the S-144 near a dam. It was suspected that the carcass was no more the 2 days old when discovered. Massunguine appeared to have died in a bull fight, as 2 holes one behind the right shoulder and the other high on the left side of the neck were found. Massunguine is estimated to have been 53 years of age when he passed away.

Hi Sarah and Kirsty
Many thanks for this photo Sarah. It is very useful. According to the ageing scheme developed by Laws (1966), the condition of the teeth would place Massunguine at 53 years old.
Sorry for the delay in this response, but have been away on leaver for the past 5 weeks.
With best wishes to you both.
Reference: LAWS, R.M. 1966. Age criteria for the African Elephant (Loxodonta a. Africana) East African Wildlife Journal 4: 1-37.
(E-mail re. Massunguine age, from Dr Ian Whyte)

Phineas ‘Massunguine’ Maluleke: ?

Tusk Data Left (Broken Tusk) Right
Length (cm) 272cm 258cm
Mass (kg) 52.75kg 53.25kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 47cm 48cm

Masthulele (carcass discovered end of 2016)

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/Letaba, this bull has however been recorded as far south as Letaba and more recently in Cleveland Private Nature Reserve to the south of Phalaborwa as well as Orpen Gate.

Special Features: Small v-shaped notch in the left ear towards the centre of the lobe with a small R1.00 size hole just below this. A small nick is present in the lower right ear lobe and a shallow w-shaped notch is present in the lower left lobe when examined closely. Masthulele has a thickened skin growth on the trunk, towards the narrowing section of the trunk, as well as a golf ball sized scar tissue area at the top of the trunk and an uneven scar area on his truck next to his left tusk. His tusks are fairly symmetrical with the left tusk curving slightly higher than the right and with a developing ‘grass notch’ on the left tusk.

General: This bulls name was very appropriate as he lived 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. Subsequent sightings of him has determined that he has a very large home range which could attribute to his previous perceived lack of sightings in one area. He is now a regular feature around the Letaba Rest Camp and is very popular with guests who enjoy his virtually daily visits to the restaurant area.

A fight at the beginning of 2008 left him with open wounds on his trunk none of which were life threatening, these have subsequently healed and as a result Masthulele has very notable scarring on his nose which can aid in his identification.

More recently in early 2015 Masthulele received a further injury on his back close to his spine from a bull fight. Despite concerns given his age and general health Masthulele recovered well and the wound area is totally healed.

Masthulele much to the dismay of many firm fans of his became very scarce from January 2016 with the last confirmed sighting of him being in the Kingfisherspruit section of the Kruger National Park during his annual pilgrimage to the Timbavati. Ongoing efforts by rangers and guests to sight this magnificent bull came to nothing as he remained unseen, yet while a carcass had not been discovered hope remained he was still with us.

Sadly a carcass found in late 2016 in the Letaba section between Giriyondo and Letaba raised suspicions that perhaps Masthulele had been found as this was his regular stomping ground in autumn and spring. Given the decomposition level of the carcass a positive ID could not be made at the time. Images of the ivory were taken and unfortunately no definitive answer could be given as the presence of a break under the left tusk and a short grass notch raised doubt this was Masthulele as neither of these features were visible in the footage of him on file. An impressive weight and length of the ivory was received from ivory stores for this ivory which kept suspicions active it could be him.

With Masthulele still not being sighted in early 2017 and additional high resolution images being received of later sightings that showed a subtle change in his ivory towards his final sighting, the decision was taken to arrange a security visit to the ivory stores in Skukuza armed with numerous high resolution images taken from different angles to assess if characteristic markings could be found. Due to security reason this visit could only be arranged for August 2017. Richard Sowry (Section Ranger, Kingfisherspruit) who has an excellent knowledge on elephants and ivory and who knew Masthulele well accompanied Kirsty Redman (Emerging Tuskers Project Coordinator) to assist in the process. With access the ivory close up and being able to look at all angles sadly several key markers were clearly visible on both tusks when examined and it was agreed by all parties the ivory belonged to Masthulele.

In consultation with Dr Ian Whyte (retired large mammal scientist) with whom Masthulele shared a name, the lower jaw was examined and a discrepancy in tooth height was noted as well as that his teeth were still in fair condition, this coupled with the last images of him in reasonable health it is felt that nutrition was not a factor in his death. The carcass site was investigated by the Letaba Section Ranger and no foul play is suspected. It is felt the likely cause of death was a bull fight. He is estimated to have been between 49 and 50 years of age at the time of death.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 234cm 245cm
Mass (kg) 51kg 54kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 49.5cm 49.5cm

Mazithe (date unknown)

Origin of Name: This bull was named after the Mazithe Dam, 8km NW of Tsokwane where he was recorded for the first time. (Mazithe was the name of a former inhabitant of the area)

Range: Tsokwane/Satara and Orpen areas

Special Features: Distinctive left floppy ear

General: This elephant was only every seen between 1991 and 1995 by a handful of guests who submitted their photo’s to Skukuza, he was elusive, but his distinctive floppy left ear made him easily recognisable.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Mculu (mid 2016, carcass discovered 29 March 2017)

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 had a relatively small home range and was seen frequently in the immediately vicinity of the Letaba Restcamp and had also been recorded on the tar road towards Phalaborwa Gate.

Special Features: This bull had notable upright curved tusks the right tusk being shorter after suffering a break in 2014. A prominent growth/thickening on his trunk could be observed. His ears also had very distinguishing characteristics, his left ear had 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”

A submission received in October 2014 showed that Mculu has broken the tip of his right tusk which now has the appearance of being more rounded. A leg injury evident in 2010 also appeared to have healed well based on the submission.

Sadly Mculu’s carcass was found by Letaba Rangers on 29th March 2017, and given the state of decomposition and scattering of the bones it is evident this magnificent bull had been deceased since mid – late 2016. The final sighting of him in May 2016 showing him in extremely poor condition would support this estimation. Fortunately his ivory was still in place and the unique break in 2014 and curved shape of the ivory allowed the bull to identified as that of Mculu.

Tusk Data Left Right (broken tusk)
Length (cm) 253cm 220cm
Mass (kg) 46kg 44kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 46cm 47.5cm

Mlondozi (11 October 1998)…..(Mafagalamba)

Origin of Name: Named after the Mlondozi Spruit, which flows east of Lower Sabie Restcamp to meet up with the Sabie River at the foot of the Lebombo Mountains. (Kloppers & Bornman (2005) give the origin of the as coming from the “Balondolozi”, a section of the Inyatsi Regiment of Mswati II who were stationed on this spruit during their battles with the Tsonga (1856 – 1860) i.e. “The place of the Balondolozi Regiment”.)

Range: Lower Sabie area of the Kruger National Park, although he was also seen as far south as Crocodile Bridge and as far north as the Tshokwane Picnic site.

Special Features: This bull had generally distinctive ragged ears, however a distinctive cut at the bottom of the left ear leaving a loose notch with a small hold next to it was particularly notable.

General: This elephant was incorrectly identified 2 years before his death around 5m north of Tshokwane as a new bull, by someone who did recognize his as Mlondozi as a result her was named Mafagalamba to those who thought they had identified a new bull, this was corrected later before his death and those who knew the bull identified the records as the same animal. This bull was seen in late winter 1998 and appeared to be very thin. Mlondozi died near the Mlondozi Dam on the 11 October 1998.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Muliluane (end 2007 – exact date unknown)

Origin of Name: This bull was named after Ranger Harry Kirkman, who served as a ranger in the Kruger National Park between 1933 and 1958. (Muliluane meaning ‘small fire’)

Range: This bull is known to move between the Sabie-Sands Private Nature Reserve and the Skukuza section of the Kruger National Park. He was recently sighted as far south as Biyamithi Bushveld camp, which is a new area for this bull.

Special Features: This bull has very widely spaced straight ivory with the left tusk being notably longer then the right. He has a prominent square notch/tear in his left ear towards the top of the ear lobe, with a loose piece of skin just below that. On the same ear, there is a notable hole towards the outer edge of the earlobe towards the bottom of the lobe.

General: This name Muliliuane seemed appropriate to give this bull as he is known to move between Kruger and the Sabie-Sand Private Nature Reserve. Harry Kirkman started his career in the Sabie-Sand, then moving to Kruger as a Ranger and returning to Sabie-Sand as Warden after his retirement from Kruger.

Last official sightings of this bull were on the 10th and 11th October 2007 in the Sabie Park picnic area, the photo’s having been submitted for the emerging tusker’s competition.

Recent investigations on other tuskers that have been collared revealed that sadly Muliliuane died in late 2007 (the exact date is unknown) from complications during a collaring effort in the Sabie Sands adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Given the bull died on private land, the ivory is in the possession of the landowner on whose property the bull died. Unfortunately this means that the tusk data is unavailable for the data records.

Nhlangulene (1932 – 1987)

Origin of Name: This bull was named after the Nhlangulene Spruit, a tributary of the Mbhatsi, which runs south west of the N’wanetsi. (Nhlanguleni is a Tsonga word meaning ‘at the magic guarri’)

Range: Nhlangulene spent most of his time wandering in the Wilderness are on the Western Boundary of the Tshokwane/Satara sections, where only a few visitors and a firebreak crossed his home range.

Special Features: Nhlangulene’s right tusk was shorter and lighter, having broken it sometime earlier in his life.

General: Little is know of this mysterious Elephant with an unobtrusive lifestyle, although he was secretive and seldom seen, he is nevertheless a worthy member of the great tuskers of the Kruger National Park.

Nhlangulene developed impressive tusks which were discovered in 1987 by game guards while on patrol, shortly after he had died of natural causes. His age was estimated at 55 years.
(Nhlangulene’s tusks are on display in the Letaba Elephant Hall)

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 262cm 204cm (205cm)
Mass (kg) 62.2kg 46.9kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 49cm 59cm

Oscar (carcass discovered 13 February 2007)

Origin of Name: Named by Dr Ian Whyte’s grandchildren (Timothy and Christopher Whitfield), who saw him regularly en route to school between Tshokwane and Skukuza.

Range: Tshokwane

Special Features: Shallow tear in right ear at the top of the ear lobe

General: A carcass with similar ivory was found in the Tshokwane section of the Kruger National Park at the Metsi Metsi windmill, it is assumed that this is Oscar as very little was know about this bull.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?)
Mass (kg) 41.35kg 45.60kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Punda Maria (date unknown)

Origin of Name: This bull was name after the northern most camp in the Kruger National Park.

Range: Punda Maria Restcamp and the wilderness area to the north of this.

Special Features: Punda had a very long left tusk that curved inwards below the tip of the shorter right master tusk, which had a distinctive crack at the tip.

General: This bull was first photographed by one of the Kruger National Parks pilots Mr Piet Otto near Punda Maria in 1987. Louis Olivier ranger at the time saw the bull regularly in the far north of the Kruger National Park. Like Mafunyane this bull had a short temper and did not like being approached.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Phelwana (…. – 1988)

Origin of Name: Phelwana was named by Anthony Hall-Martin when he was seen emerging from the Phelwana stream and tributary of the Timbavati in the central region of the Kruger National Park. (Origin of the name is unknown but was possibly a person of long ago – probably a Sotho person (Kloppers & Bornman 2005).

Range: Phelwana frequented the Kingfisherspruit ranger’s section, west of Satara. During the latter part of the 1980’s Phelwana adopted the habit of breaking trough the Park’s western boundary fence where he was often seen in Manyeleti, Timbavati and other nature reserves.

Special Features: Phelwana has a large round hole on the out edge of his left ear. Phelwana had notable weight to his ivory.

General: Phelwana was first recorded in 1980 during the annual aerial census. He was average sized bull, reaching 325cm at the shoulder and with a forefoot circumference of 152cm. On the 22nd January 1988 game scout Armand Ndhlouvu of the Kingfisherspruit Section reported that Pelwana was in difficulty, noting that he had been shot and that his condition was poor and he could scarcely walk. Assistance was called in and the elephant was darted for examination. A bullet wound from a heavy caliber rifle in the neck region had gone septic, and has also shattered his lower jawbone which made feeding and drinking extremely difficult. There was little hope of saving him and it was agreed to put him down.

Phelwana’s magnificent tusks were the heaviest in the collection, together weighing 135.5kg until the inclusion of Mandleve, now the heaviest recorded bull in Southern Africa.

(Phelwane’s tusks are on display in the Letaba Elephant Hall)

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 257cm 277cm
Mass (kg) 63.8kg 71.7kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 54cm 56cm

Shipandani (date unknown)

Origin of Name: This bull was named for the Shipandani Hills, in the Mooiplaas area of northern Kruger National Park. (This bulls name was taken from the Tsonga word Panda which means ‘that which divides or splits’)

Range: Mooiplaas, northern Kruger National Park

Special Features: One long left tusk, but no apparent right tusk

General: Very little is known about this elephant. He was photographed by Keith Begg at Grysbok windmill 14km north of Mopani Restcamp in Oct 1993.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Shishangane (carcass discovered December 1996)

Origin of Name: This bull shares his name with the Shishangane Spruit, a tributary of the N’wanetsi. (Shishangane is taken from the Tsonga word Shishanga meaning ‘a ritual used to ensure that any undertaking is successful’)

Range: The area between Satara and N’wanetsi in the central Kruger National Park.

Special Features: This bull had two symmetrical inward curving tusks. He sadly broke the left tusk towards the end of his life.

General: Shishangane’s carcass was found in December 1996 by the N’wanetsi field rangers between Kumana and Sweni windmills on the Mtumzululuku spruit. He appeared to have been dead for approximately 3 months, his bottom molars were worn out completely so his death is attributed to natural causes. He was estimated to be approximately 60years of age at the time of death.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) Approx. 59.5 kg (‘stump’ 27kg) 50.5kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Spirowiri (date unknown)

Origin of Name: This tusker was named by Dr Ian Whyte for the Spirowiri waterhole in the Shingwedzi River. (Spirowiri is the Tsonga word meaning ‘two difficult tasks’)

Range: Shingwedzi area in far northern Kruger National Park

Special Features: Well matched tusks, slightly bowed and curved.

General: This bull was regularly seen between Shingwedzi and Red Rocks between 1989 and 1997.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Tshokwane (September 1998)

Origin of Name: This bull derives his name from the Tshokwane Picnic site.

Range: Tshokwane section and Metsi-Metsi trails area.

Special Features: Characteristic V notch in right ear. Both of his tusks were broken before his death and different levels.

General: Tshokwane is probably most famous for the ‘death charge’ on well know wildlife photographer Daryl Belfour, at the time Tshokwane ranger Johann Oelofse was given instructions to seek and destroy the bull after the near fatal charge. However it was decided to do a full investigation of the scene first. It was found through study of the spoor markings that several mock charges were done distinguishable by the depth of the footprints left in the ground. It was concluded that the human element had caused the charge and it was agreed that the bull would not be destroyed. Tshokwane field rangers found the carcass of this formidable bull on the 14th September 1998 near the Orpen Dam. He had several wounds on his body and it was therefore assumed he had been in a fight with another bull, and his wounds had proved fatal. He was estimated to be approximately 55 years at the time of death.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) 51.3kg 59.5kg (27kg broken piece)
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Tshilonde (date unknown)

Origin of Name: This impressive bull was named by Dr Ian Whyte after a waterhole situated South East of Shingwedzi Camp where he is often seen. (Tshilonde is the Venda/Tsonga word meaning ‘wound or sore’) The elephant was named after the place, and there is no connection between the meaning of the word and the elephant.

Range: Shingwedzi Restcamp and the area to the SE of it.

Special Features: His tusks were almost identical to Dzombo’s, and he had a distinctive kink in his tail.

General: When Tshilonde was last seen he had broken one of his tusks. Like Mashagadzi he lived in the area around Shingwedzi restcamp, and was often seen by tourists especially between 1994 and 1998.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Xamariri (date unknown)…..(Shamariri)

Origin of Name: This bull was named by Dr Ian Whyte after the Shamiriri Hill situated on the main watershed between the Letaba and Olifants Rivers. (Shamiriri is the Tsonga word meaning ‘the hairy one/of hair’, this name

Range: Letaba/Olifants areas of the Kruger National Park.

Special Features: This bull did not have any distinctive ear markings, and could only be identified by his straight downward curving tusks.

General: Xamariri was first seen in 1992 by Mr Lutner. Afterwards he was seen regularly in the Letaba and Olifants areas.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) ? ?
Mass (kg) ? ?
Circumference at Lip (cm) ? ?

Xilowa (April 1998)…..(Shilowa)

Origin of Name: Pronounced and commonly spelt Shilowa this bull was named by Dr Ian Whyte after the Shilowa koppie situated near the Mozambique boarder, where it was known that a strange man used to live. (Shilowa is the Tsonga word for “the bewitched one”)

Range: Mooiplaas and southwards towards the Letaba Restcamp
Special Features: Shilowa had a straight long right tusk and a much sorter left master tusk.

General: Shilowa was regularly seen between 1992 and 1998. His carcass was found by game guards near the Nshawu No. 1 windmill east of Mopani on the 14 April 1998. Johann Oelofse Ranger at Mooiplaas Section at the time did the investigation and estimated that Shilowa had been dead for approximately 5 days and it appeared that he died from natural causes. According to Johann his feet had healed well from the ‘sole problems’ that had plagued him over the 2 years before his death with scars only being visible on one hind foot.

Shilowa’s right tusk had a crack up the length, while the underside had deep reservoir scars unique to Kruger Elephants.

Tusk Data Left Right
Length (cm) 215cm 237cm
Mass (kg) 38.75kg 47.3kg
Circumference at Lip (cm) 46cm 47cm