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Letaba Elephant Hall

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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gmlsmit
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:18 pm

Kambaku – Old Elephant Bull.

Image

Also named in the Tsonga language.

This handsome Elephant with a near perfect matching set of tusks roamed the plains and bush between Satara and Orpen down to Crocodile Bridge. He was very often seen in the Kingfisher Spruit area and was one of the most photographed of the MAGNIFECENT SEVEN.

He had a round hole, close to the outer edge of his left ear. Kambaku was a loner and unlike other Elephants, had no hairs at the end of his tail.

His tusk details are :
Length : L 259 cm, R 265 cm.
Mass : L 63.2 kg, R 64.0 kg.
Circumference at lip : L 51 cm R 52 cm.

KAMBAKU came to a very sad end. On one of his wanderings down south he strayed across the Crocodile River and someone shot him using a heavy calibre rifle. He returned to KRUGER stumbling along with a broken shoulder. The scientists realised that nothing could be done to relieve him of his agony and it was decided that mercifully he would be shot. This became the task of the Ranger at Lower Sabie – Lynn van Rooyen

The tusks of this old giant of the bush are on display in the Goldfields Elephant hall in Letaba.
Last edited by gmlsmit on Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:20 pm

Dzombo – To wait for something that is slow in coming

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This name Dzombo is also derived from the Tsonga language.

This old giant also roamed the plains and bush of the northern area of the Kruger National Park. Between Letaba and Punda Maria..

His beautiful set of tusks were curved and bowed pointing forward, a classic example of a large bull from the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, and nearly identical.

His tusk details are :
Length : L 255 cm, R 237 cm.
Mass : L55.5 kg, R 56.8 kg.
Circumference at lip : L 50 cm R 51 cm.

This beautiful old bull was killed during October 1983, near the waterhole Dzombyane, by Mozambican poachers in a hail of AK47 bullets. Fortunately the Ranger Ampie Espach came across the scene before the tusks could be removed. The poachers must have fled upon hearing the approach of the vehicle, leaving these wonderful trophies behind..

DZOMBO was estimated to have been 50 years old the time of him being murdered.

The tusks of this old giant of the bush are on display in the Goldfields Elephant hall in Letaba.
Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:21 pm

Mafunyane – The irritable one.

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This name Mafunyane is also derived from the Tsonga language, it was also the name of a previous warden Lou Steyn, who was quite similar in temperament.

This old bull roamed the plains and bush of the Shangoni section in the northwestern area of the Kruger National Park. From the upper part of the Shingwedzi River down to the Bububu stream

His beautiful set of tusks were fairly straight and the tips worn to a chisel like end rubbed from being rubbed on the ground as this old man of the AFRICAN plains moved along. Mafunyane was never seen near tourist roads, he was elusive, shy and irritable, he would charge immediately when confronted, fortunately he was seldomnly seen by tourists..

Mafunyane had a symmetrical hole in the top of his head nearly 40 cm deep, leading into his nasal cavity, through which he also breathed – possibly a wound from an earlier fight with another bull. There is much speculation about the origin of the hole but one mentioned here is the most likely.

Another identifying characteristic was that his one toe of the left hind foot was splayed to one side, leaving an easily distinguishable impression.

Mafunyane was slightly smaller than the other members of this group, measuring 327 cm at the shoulder.

His tusk details are :
Length : L 251 cm, R 251 cm.
Mass : L55.1 kg, R55.1 kg.
Circumference at lip : L 48 cm R 48 cm.

The remains of this beautiful old bull were found near the Tari River, northwest of the Shingwedzi Rest Camp, it is assumed that he died of natural causes. As only his scattered skeleton was found, with the tusks identifying him.

MAFUNYANE was estimated to have been 57 years old the time of his death in 1983.

The tusks of this old giant of the bush are on display in the Goldfields Elephant hall in Letaba
Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:23 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:22 pm

SHAWU

Image

This old giant of the AFRICAN plains massive tusks rank among the longest of the African Elephants and most certainly the longest of those who roamed the SOUTHERN AFRICAN plains. These tusks were almost symmetrical in shape; it is assumed that he may not have been a great warrior of the Elephant tribe therefore the tusk length indicated below.

Due to the shape of his tusks he was referred to in the Afrikaans language as “ Groot Haaktand” – “ Great Hook Tusk “

This old bull roamed the plains and bush between the area from which his name derived – Shawu and the Shingwedzi River between the main road and the Great Lebombo Mountains.

This magnificent animal was quite approachable; due to his tusk length it was feared that he may fall pray to poachers. It was decided to fit a collar with a radio transmitter so that his movements and whereabouts could be monitored very regularly, often daily.

Once it was realised that old Shawu’s time was approaching, he was monitored daily, then one morning it was noticed that the transmissions were not moving, a search group was sent out to the Kostini area east of the Shingwedzi Rest Camp, where they found this old giant – dead!

Old Shawu was truly a giant who had a shoulder height of 340 cm.


His tusk details are:
Length: L3171 cm, R 305 cm.
Mass: L52.7 kg, R50.8 kg.
Circumference at lip: L 45 cm R 45 cm.



SHAWU was estimated to have been close to 60 years old the time of his death in 1983.

The tusks of this old giant of the bush are on display in the Goldfields Elephant hall in Letaba
Last edited by gmlsmit on Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:24 pm

JOAO – named after the AFRICAN Priest King- Prester John.

Image


This old giant of the AFRICAN plains of whom only photographs remain, his tusks were never found, was roamed the area south of the Shingwedzi River as far south as Mahlangene and east towards Shilowa.

His name derived from the waterhole near the Shingwedzi River where he was first seen Joao.

Old Joao was wounded by poachers in 1982, fortunately he escaped and was soon found. Joao was immobilised and the wounds cleaned and treated with antibiotics and then revived. His tusks were measured and a few other details taken.


The mass indicated below are estimates and these mighty tusks make them the heaviest set of the magnificent seven.

Unlike Shawu who was not aggressive, Joao broke his tusks presumably in a fight with another bull...



Old Joao was truly a giant who had a shoulder height of 340 cm.


His tusk details are:
Length: L 271 cm, R 250 cm.
Mass: L 70.0 kg, R60.0 kg.
Circumference at lip: L 51 cm R 51 cm.



JOAO was estimated to have been in his 50s at the time of his death.

The tusks of this old giant of the bush were never found and maybe who knows one day ………..
Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:25 pm

SHINGWEDZI

Image

This old giant of the AFRICAN plains was named after the River in which area he spent most of the last years of his life- the Great Shingwedzi Shingwedzi meaning the metallic sound of the rocks of the area when they are rubbed or banged together..


His tusk details are:
Length: L3171 cm, R 305 cm.
Mass: L52.7 kg, R50.8 kg.
Circumference at lip: L 45 cm R 45 cm.



SHINGWEDZI was estimated to have been close to 60 years old the time of his death in 1983.

The tusks of this old giant of the bush are on display in the Goldfields Elephant hall in Letaba
Last edited by gmlsmit on Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby steamtrainfan » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:27 pm

Just as amatter of interest a certain drink company ( Amarula) sold their bottle of drink in lovely tube.
There were 7 different tubes each depicting a drawing of one of the magnificent seven as named above.
Also on this tube were the details as mentioned above.
These actually make a wonderful talking point in a pub or on display in your house.
It took me over a year to collect all 7 as they are pretty hard to come by nowadays.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby gmlsmit » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:19 pm

Shawu = Shewani= "Good day" a greeting in the Tsonga language.
Alternatively:
Nshawu = Shawu = "to have a pleasant taste" in the Tsonga language.
The last one may be the more logic as the Shawu Vlei may have a pleasnt taste to the grazers.
Last edited by gmlsmit on Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: THE MAGNIFECENT SEVEN

Unread postby Ferdelance » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:23 am

Thank you Gmlsmith.

That is an interesting story. I have always wondered how the Magnificent 7 story started? now I know! :thumbs_up:

The next question however is who will be the next lot of tuskers!? I never had the chance to see any of the "Mag7" in real life but I've come across Tsotsi and Hlanganini, (before tusk break!). Very cool..... I wonder if the Park will make an official "Famous 5" or "superior 6" .....for the next generation!
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Letaba elephant hall - missed oportunity

Unread postby simon boaz » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:03 pm

I would like to ask a question of the guys in charge at Letaba elephant hall.
Why don't you have some sort of book/magazine/print out that has all the details about the 7.

I love that hall and have been in there a few times.
the pictures and information is great and in some cases moving but nothing I could buy to keep and show people.

I'm not asking for anything special, a photocopy of the boards stapled together would do and I'm sure everyone would buy it if not at some stupid price.
by that I mean don't let the shops get hold of the idea!!!

I have photographed all the boards and will now do my own but I really think you are missing a great opportunity.
live this life dont wait for the next one

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Re: letaba elephant hall missed oportunity

Unread postby simon boaz » Thu Dec 03, 2009 6:50 pm

I don't find it loses its appeal but there again I only get to visit every couple of years.
I was not intending to knock the hall in any way, I just thought it might be a good earner.
also if there was info to take away on the present ellies there would I'm sure be an increase in the reported sightings.
Sorry hall staff wasn't my intention to cause you any waves!
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Re: letaba elephant hall missed oportunity

Unread postby Hippotragus » Sat Dec 05, 2009 3:31 pm

The elephant museum could be wonderful, if they kept it up to date.

When I was there in June, they did not know that Alexander had died and still had him listed as an future tusker. The person on the desk looked at me blankly when I pointed this out.

The displays are good and give one a better understanding of this magnificent animal.
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Re: letaba elephant hall missed oportunity

Unread postby Merel » Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:11 pm

I do not read the forum on a regular basis and only just find out Hglanganini's death.
It is so very very sad.
I am lucky enough to have seen him in May this year and will treasure this memory.
It will be 3 opportunities missed if they do not place Duke's, Alexander and Hlanganini's tusks in the Elephant Hall soon. We are talking of a hall and not the Rabelais hut, so I can not understand why they have not done so already (with regards to Duke's and Alexander's tusks).
Seems like a good opportunity to do so before the upcoming football world championship when people of all over the world visit the Kruger park.
Though the death of the big tuskers is sad, it will be very special to see their tusks and touch them, knowing you saw them alive.
It will only contribute to more respect for the bush and its wildlife.

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Re: letaba elephant hall missed oportunity

Unread postby DinkyBird » Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:21 am

And a further email from Kirsty, replying to comments made here:

Dear Dalene,

I just read the link that you attached to the original query and feel compelled to perhaps answer some of the other comments.
With regards to Alexander, yes his information is still up on the current board as people commented they would like to see the tusk information and would not like him removed, so while still on the current tusker board there is an attachment that was inserted on his death (which we were informed of immediately and all my staff were aware of) which has the date of death and the tusk dimensions on it so there is no doubt of his status.

I cannot comment on the identification of the tuskers issue as, as far as I know all of us are very familiar with Hlanganini, however if there are problems with elephant hall staff I would appreciate feedback with specifics so I can address any issues immediately.

With regards to the inclusion of additional tusks, while we would love to include all the recently deceased tuskers, there simply is not space and displays would have to be lost to accommodate that, given it is an education centre and not just a tusk museum this would be counter productive.
While magnificent animals, Hlanganini, Duke and Alexander are only 3 of the recently deceased tuskers, 4 having passed away before Hanaganini and Alexander and all of whom had tusks that are equal to or bigger then all 3 of the mentioned tuskers.
A set of criteria was given that to be included the emerging tuskers would have to supersede the existing tuskers in the hall, none of which have achieved this to date.
We accept that people develop attachments to specific tuskers especially when the opportunity has arisen to see them personally, however it must be understood there are currently 10 regularly seen tuskers at this time and 8 that have died in my time here amount to 18 potential sets of tusks, and a limit has to exist as to where to draw the line on inclusion into the display.

With regards to updating the displays, we are looking at the written displays but cost is an issue with current budgets, this will therefore have to be done in time and very carefully, we met with huge criticism when we undertook the last upgrade to include the skeleton from many guests who did not want to see the hall changed at all and were quite upset that we were changing what they considered a piece of history, so it would seem we simply cannot make everyone happy and someone is always going to be upset.

I hope this will help with your queries as well.

Kind Regards,
Kirsty Redman
Interpretive Officer, Nxanatseni Region, Kruger National Park

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Re: Letaba elephant hall - missed oportunity

Unread postby Merel » Wed Dec 09, 2009 2:32 pm

Dalene thanks for posting the reply and Kirsty thanks for explaining things to us.
My personal feeling still is though that Duke, Alexander and Hgalanganini were loved by a big crowd. Not all the deceased big tuskers are well known to the public.
The fact that their tusks are not bigger than those of the magnificent seven makes it even more interesting because one can compare them.
It is so true you cannot make everybody happy; hope you will make me happy in time :lol:
Keep up the good work.


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