Past Tusker - Duke

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Past Tusker - Duke

Unread post by RosemaryH »

Past Tusker - Duke
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Photo by Marie de la Hunt

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.

Read more about Duke here
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Unread post by KNP Spokesman »

How old is Duke?

I understand that the only really accurate way to age an elephant is with his teeth.

An elephant has 6 sets of molars in its lifetime. These are replaced every couple of years until the last set is left. Most elephants on this last set of molars have only a few years left before they eventually die (quite literally of starvation as, without their teeth, they can't process food).

Scientists/researchers have documented the shape and size of these molar sets and, by looking at the teeth, we can tell within a few years, the age of an elephant.

At a quick glance, you can also get an "idea" by looking at the shape of an elephant's head. If it has deep depressions in the forehead region, that animal is probably fairly old.

As I have not yet looked inside Duke's mouth, I am not really sure but I would say he is a pretty old elephant and is probably about 50-odd years old.

Hope this helps ...

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PS - Hopefully, one day, I'll see him too ...
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Unread post by HappySnapper »

[quote="Wild@Heart"]What is the norm when naming the big tuskers?

Seeing that they did not know about him, do they name him or the people who took the photograph?[/quote]


I really should have responded to this ages ago and I’m sorry I didn’t.

Well; I can tell you how and when Duke was named for I was there!

It was close to Christmas 1992 and my family (wife, mother-in-law and two kids) and I were visiting the Park. One day – about noon/early afternoon if I recall correctly, we were slowly driving down that dirt road to the Duke windmill and waterhole. We saw this amazing elephant near the windmill, with two askaris.

He was heading back along the road, on the opposite side to the waterhole and he stopped at a point where he clearly wished to cross the road. He was very close to the car and seemed quite happy to wait all day, if need be, until we moved on – away from the particular spot where he wanted to cross.

I took a couple of pictures of him and really was excited. We drove to Skukuza and I went straight to the photoshop and waited impatiently for the pictures.

When they finally appeared we rushed off to track down Ian Whyte to show him.

He knew the elephant, of course, and showed us the only other picture that he then had of him, a Daryl Balfour shot. And then he said that he had not yet been named. Mother-in-law saw this as a challenge not to be ignored!

“Maybe (you can put on a little old lady voice here :-)) he can be Duke”, she said, “taking into account where we saw him?.”

Dr Whyte liked the idea and so Duke he became and remains. He also liked the one photograph and contacted me some months later in Grahamstown for permission to have a print made for display in the museum at Letaba. Which is where it has been ever since.

My mother-in-law, by the way, is a KNP addict and has been since - - - well; a very long time ago! She is now living in a retirement home in Port Alfred and spends most of her waking hours planning her next Kruger visit. Sadly, she is a bit frail and travelling is getting a bit much for her – Port Alfred is also quite far away from the KNP! She last visited about 18 months ago, with another of her three daughters, and she is now nearly 88 years old.

I thought you might be interested.
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Unread post by Baz »

We think thi is duke, if someone can confirm

Seen at Ntandanyathi hide

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Last edited by Elsa on Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Pic resizing.
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Unread post by wildtuinman »

Yup, it's him. Can even see the clip in the left ear. Very well done!
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Unread post by wildtuinman »

Weebirdy, if you see Duke you will just know that it is him. Physically he is not the largest ele in Kruger, but he sports with the two biggest pillars in Africa most probably.

Also remember that he is found in a specific region(Croc bridge towards Lower Sabie and as far up as the Sweni area), no other ele with similar tusks like his are found there.

I wish I could see you face the first time you gonna see a wild ele. :D Enjoy!
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Unread post by KNP Spokesman »

Hi Weebirdy

Duke is a very special animal whom I have only seen once. There are, however, some of my colleagues who have seen him more than once (notably some of the guides at Lower Sabie, the rangers at Croc Bridge and Tshokwane and, of course, our elephant scientist Dr Ian Whyte who has seen him a FEW times!).
He has also been spotted on the Lebombo Overland Eco-Trial (the four night, five day trip on our eastern boundary) so his range is fairly big.
The square notch on his left ear is small but distinctive, it is just a shade lower than his eye, on the edge of his hear "flap". You can't really see it on the photograph above but it is amazing how it stands out when you see this elephant "in elephant". [well, I can't really say "in person", can I?]
Less obvious is a strange V-shape (on its side) fold on the left ear but, as Wildtuinman says, when you see him there is no doubt in your mind as the tips of his tusks literally scrape the ground. In fact, rangers tell me that he often "sleeps" by leaning on these VERY LONG tusks.
He normally has 5/6 "Askari" bulls with him but over December 2006 he was spotted with a family group, including calves. Although it might not be (elephants have very loose associations between bulls and cows), there is a good chance that they are his siblings, so there is a bit of go in the old boy yet!
Incidentally, we think he is in the 55-60 year time span, which means that he doesn't have that much longer to go.

Kind regards
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timbo
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Duke

Unread post by timbo »

I saw Duke last year in august and would pics if i just knew how too. He was looking good as we got within 10 feet of him. He is masive. He is about a metre taller then those green game drive vehicles. His tusks have been worn away at the bottom. What a pity.
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Unread post by Perks. »

I saw Duke the one and only time, on 23 May 1997. It was a Friday, we were en route to LS for mum's 50th. Entered at Croc Bridge, and were in convoy with loads of people heading the same way for the weekend. I was in my car, my boet was driving my mom's new car (surprise birthday present). All cameras and things were still stashed in the boot, so no photos.

There was a turning to the right, about halfway between CB and LS. And Duke was walking down the middle of the road, towards CB, and cars were scattering. I could swear there was a twinkle in his eye at the mayhem he was causing! ;)

There was much trepidation about 'mom's new car', and so we ducked into the side road, turned around, and waited for him to pass.

A Daewoo Espero did the same thing, but after the excitement was over, it was the funniest thing... driver (she) and passenger (he) swapped places in a great hurry. We suspect hubby let missus drive once they got into the park, and after this experience, her nerves were shot, and she gave back the controls to hubby! Gosh we laughed.

But yes, he was a sight to behold then, he must be quite an anmal now.
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Unread post by Elsa »

This is my contribution to the highlight of all my Kruger sightings, DUKE seen on May 31st this year, on the S28 a little way north of Mac's WH. :D :D

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Unread post by Imberbe »

Sad news is that Duke lost one of his tusks on Monday (20 Aug. 2007). Members of our Duke pack was first to spot the tragedy. The local ranger has confirmed that it was indeed Duke that has lost his left tusk.

No one is quite sure what caused the tusk to snap approx 30 cm. from his lip.

The ranger is looking for the lost piece, as it certainly will be of great historical value. See the "The tale of the tusks" thread for more info.
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duke has lost a tusk

Unread post by ron brameld »

There was a new flash on the radio this morning (25 august 2007) that duke has lost one of his tusks. Is this a rumour or is it the truth? What a great loss if he has lost one.I understood that they were going to search for this magnificent tusk.
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Unread post by DinkyBird »

Hi Ron, Yes, sadly Duke has lost a tusk :( And members of this forum were there when it happened!! Read about it here - The Tale of the Tusk. And here - Duke breaks left tusk.
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Unread post by Elsa »

We saw him on the 22nd Sept on the S28 Petro.
He was with 2 askaris and looked very relaxed.

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Good luck, hope you manage to find the ol' man. :D
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Unread post by Nico »

In this little video, you see Duke in better day's. We mostly saw him on the S28. :wink:

Last edited by Nico on Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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