Skip to Content

The Tale of the Tusk...

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1227
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:41 pm
Location: Gauties .

The Tale of the Tusk...

Unread post by bucky » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:53 pm

Monday 20th of August, 2007, Matt and Wildtuinman drove out onto the S28 to go look for Duke. After we've spend some time at the Ntandanyati hide we edged back to the S28. Matt gave Wildtuinman the choice of turning left or right back onto the S28.

After some quibble and a serious game of ching chong cha we landed up turning right. Which had a significant outcome to this whole story.

After a few minutes we started getting bored and Wildtuinman in his true joking spirit asked Matt if he wanted to see Duke.

He then pointed out into the field, and there asif Murphy's law was waiting to happen, an elephant popped out of nowhere!

We laughed and joked about this and although making it out as a strange phenomenon the strange feeling of unknown description made us scan the elephant with our bins. It wasn't Duke thou.

We scanned a second trailing elephant. Also... that one had short tusks.

Then a third elphant appeared, half leaning against a tree. With new Bushnell bins pointed in that direction we held our breath...

It was him... the old boy!!! The two white tusks flashing clear and brilliantly in the African sun.

What was even more weird was that we had cell reception. We phoned Bucky and left numerous voicemail messages as he was on his way to Lower Sabie from Balule. Two hours later we got hold of him. Duke has not moved much and Bucky was on his way after dropping of the caravan to come have a look.

The man's face was priceless as he parked his red bus next to us. His being in the Park for more then a week has sharpened his view and he saw Duke without any difficulty.

We took photos, we viewed him thru the bins and around 16:00 we headed back to Lower Sabie. We got the caravan pitched and decided to head out to spend a few more minutes with Duke.

We found him easily. He had hardly moved from his last position an hour before.

We once more took pics and then the most unthinkable thing happened. Bucky pointed out that we were no longer looking at Duke. Wildtuinman scanned the elephant via the bins and noted that the left tusk was indeed not Duke's tusk.

A brief discussion followed and after a series of photos were taken and followed by further scanning thru the bins, it was decided that Duke must have lost his left tusk.

Doubt, disbelief and sadness fell over us all. But the pictures shed no doubt. Duke was without his left tusk. It had broken off in the hour we were away from him that afternoon.

As the fiery-necked nightjar sang it's somewhat sad song that night we sat around our campfire, absolutely devasted by this loss. A rough night would soon follow for all of us. One with little sleep and many questions.

Why did we turn right?
Why did we joke about the fluke sighting?
Why did we leave him?
Why was it left to members of the original duke pack to see these events unfold ?

More people saw him today. Duke's left tusk is history.



User avatar
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2006 5:38 pm
Location: Gauteng

Unread post by Lynne » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:08 pm

Very sad guys!!!!!!

Nice to know you guys saw him last with both his tusks.

You guys were meant to be there..

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1364
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 12:06 am
Location: the Netherlands

Unread post by Jose » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:53 pm

How terribly sad! :(

Do you know if the broken off tusk has been recovered by SANP staff?

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 830
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:50 am
Location: Pretoria

Unread post by dianne » Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:19 pm

Guys, this is unbelievable!!! I'm sure you will have told Kirsty and Raymond etc about this...I'm on leave as from tomorrow...but I want to know more...Can I just say that it's very very fitting that you all saw him and with both Tusks...I'll also see if i can find out if Ranger Patrols have found the broken off ivory, and what the hypothesis as to what happened!

Dianne Tipping-Woods

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 532
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:26 am
Location: Durban, South Africa

Unread post by Jock » Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:31 am

:( :( :( :(

Does anyone know if rangers have gone out to try and find the missing tusk, should not be hard to find.
Her Highness Jockelina

Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1372
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:51 am
Location: In a very busy place

Unread post by Wild@Heart » Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:22 am

I'm so terribly proud of our men in the field (the last to see him with 2 tusks and the 1st to see him with 1 tusk)! I think it's only fitting that my counterparts in the "Duke Pack" were to see this.

I spoke to Matt last night and he told me that they sending out the 1 man plane today to go and look for the tusk. I also think it was a blessing in disguise that it was members from the "Duke Pack" who saw this happened .. They knew the old bull and were good enough to ID him after he lost his tusk ..

In normal circumstances it would have been very difficult to find that tusk .. but based on the fact that the guys have a time period and a location where he was when loosing his tusks gives the rangers a better chance of finding it .. Holding thumbs.

It's also a clear sign that Duke is on his last moments on this earth .. He is very old and breaking his tusk must be a sign that the end is creeping closer.

Well done my 'fellow' Duke Pack guys for keeping the name of the "Duke Pack" high ... I knew you guys could do it and I'm very happy you guys saw him!

User avatar
Meandering Mouse
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
FAC Member (2017)
Award: Forumite of the year - Eagle Award (2016)
Posts: 17829
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 8:47 pm
Location: meandering between senility and menopause

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Wed Aug 22, 2007 6:42 am


but well done guys.. and I also agree, it seems fitting that members of the Duke pack were the last to see him with both tusks still intact.
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.

User avatar
Posts: 45559
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:54 pm
Location: The Beautiful Cape

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:08 am

This is really an emotional time. Gosh, the timing of part of the Duke Pack's visit is unbelievable! Thanks guys for your feed back and sharing this with us here on the forum.

I feel so sad that a great life is nearing its end here on earth. The wisdom Duke must have. Why would his tusk have broken after all these years? As they get older, do ellie tusks become more brittle?

Duke Pack, I salute you all. Duke, I salute you.
- Dalene

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1227
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:41 pm
Location: Gauties .

Unread post by bucky » Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:36 am

Hi all ,
My comrades have left for the trip home to Jhb , so I am on my own again .

Credit to the initial story write up here to WTM and Matt .

Just to try shed a bit of light on events -

By the look of things , Duke was busy digging up raisin bushes at the time , so its very easy he got hold of a solid bush , or maybe even one with a nice big rock in the ground , and simply snapped the tusk off in the process .
One has to remeber he is very old , so after years of use , and general "wear and tear" that tusks do become brittle over time with small cracks etc , and often break away at a weak point .
If you look at matts pic in particular , or my pic with his tusk gone you can see how sunken the temples etc are at this stage , indicating extreme old age .

SANparks has a good idea where to look for the tusk , so let us hope that it is easily recovered , I certainly hope so !
Maybe by this evening it will be in safe hands .

On a good note , We saw a great tusker near Tshokwane yesterday , and I have seen a very large cow , plus bull around Satara and Balule , so there are a lot of new ellies ready to fill the new title role of KNP's biggest tusker once duke passes on .

I wonder who the biggest two tusked ellie is now ?

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1372
Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 6:51 am
Location: In a very busy place

Unread post by Wild@Heart » Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:38 pm

Thanks for that info Bucky ..

Maybe you guys saw MaMerle (Big Female Tusker in that area) and Muliluane.

My money on the Biggest Tusker now in the Park with both his tusks intact is on Hlanganini (found around Letaba Camp).

But Tshilonde also could be .. thou he also broke off a bit of his left tusk ..

Don't know who the heaviest is currently thou.

User avatar
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 13635
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 am
Location: Pretoria, RSA

Unread post by Imberbe » Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:28 pm

I just spoke to the ranger at Crocodile Bridge. They are looking for the tooth, but has not yet found it. They will be contacting Bucky (answer your sel!) to help them in locating the tusk. They will also use an aeroplane if they can't find it on the ground.

Hope they find it!

BTW Duke remains the biggest tusker since his other tusk is still the biggest in the KNP.
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

"Wilderness cannot be conquered, it becomes part of you and enriches your soul." - Louis

Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit

User avatar
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 14519
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?

Unread post by DuQues » Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:54 pm

Poor Duke... But a great story!
Wild@Heart wrote:My money on the Biggest Tusker now in the Park with both his tusks intact is on Hlanganini (found around Letaba Camp).

In which case Bert is the first forumite to see him in that ranking...
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1657
Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:40 pm
Location: At work

Unread post by restio » Wed Aug 22, 2007 5:51 pm

A bittersweet tale: the excitement of finding the magnificent old tusker; the sadness of realizing his days, like ours, are numbered.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121 - 180) wrote:Always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are. Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:35 pm

Unread post by pardus » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:25 pm

That is so apt Restio! Great words befitting of such a proud old boy!

User avatar
Posts: 16311
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Tinley Manor, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Unread post by Elsa » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:39 pm

pardus wrote:That is so apt Restio! Great words befitting of such a proud old boy!

Absolutely and that is why I feel so sad for anyone who has not had the privilege of seeing this wonderful animal in the flesh, the biggest tusker in the world.
It is indeed an honour for me to have had some time with him, and one I will remember all my life.

Return to “SANParks Tuskers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Webcam Highlights

Submitted by Marrakesh at 12:34:39
Submitted by Foxy at 21:50:59
Submitted by adw at 19:07:36
Submitted by romanera at 19:21:08