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Media Release: KNP’s oldest tusker Duke dies of old age

07 October 2011

The elephant was discovered lying on its side along Makambeni spruit near west of the S28 road, five kilometres from Crocodile Bridge Camp. Crocodile Bridge Section Ranger, Neels van Wyk became worried when he noticed that there was no movement from Duke’s collar signal for a few days, went to investigate; only to find Duke’s five day old carcass along the Makambeni stream.

“Although Duke was old, we are very saddened by this magnificent bull’s passing as he was very popular and had avid followers who always asked about him. In the past few years, there had been enquiries as to whether Duke was still with us; so when news of his passing came through we assumed it was rumours doing the rounds again” said William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations.

Duke had already lost both his tusks and in 2010 was fitted with a tracking collar in an effort to check up on him and track his whereabouts. He was estimated to have lived in the KNP bush for over 55 years. As is normal practice, the head, tusk remains and possibly skeletons would be recovered and then stored for possible display purposes.

Emerging tuskers are named after previous rangers and field rangers who have made notable contributions to conservation and the KNP. Duke was named after the ranger, Thomas Duke who was based at Lower Sabie between 1903 and 1923. His home range was between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge Rest Camps but could also be seen roaming around Tshokwane and Metsi Metsi Trails Camp.

Though the Emerging Tuskers competition has been temporarily suspended, the KNP continues to add new tuskers to its ranks through photographic submissions of guests. 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.

For more information on the tuskers, how and where to submit photos etc, please visit or enquire at the Elephant Museum in Letaba Rest Camp (013 735 6664).

Crocodile Bridge Section Ranger, Neels van Wyk received signal from the collar that Duke stayed in one place for a few days. On the photo, he identifies the carcass as the legendary Duke.

Issued by:
Laura Mukwevho, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4262, cell: 082 807 1441 or e-mail:

William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communication, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or e-mail: