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Current tuskers - the legend continues...

The legend of the Magnificent Seven lives on in Kruger National Park through a number of animals carrying impressive ivory.

Scientists are studying these impressive animals and you can help by providing information on any tusker you see in the park. See our Emerging Tuskers Project for more details.

When a new tusker is identified, current policy requires that they be named after their home range or characteristics unique to the individual tusker.

The current tuskers:

Bidzane

Photo by Arks Smith

Photo by Arks Smith

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Gus Adendorff who served as a ranger in the Kruger National Park for 27 years. (‘Bidzane’ is Swahili and refers to the zebra skin band around the hat that Gus always wore)
Range: North of Letaba
Special Features: Large v-shaped tear/notch in the middle of the left ear lobe, notable hole approximately the size of R2 coin about 10cm below the tear. Bidzane’s ivory is not exceptionally substantial at this time, but has the potential to develop. His ivory is fairly symmetrical with the left tusk curving more then the right.
General: The existence of this bull was initially questionable as he bears a remarkable similarity to Timaka, a known bull who at a time frequented the same area. A detailed submission received in April 2006, by Ms Arks Smith, showed the identification characteristics of this bull and served to clearly highlight the very subtle difference between the two bulls and allowing his existence to be confirmed. He was named in 2007 during the judging of the 2006 Emerging Tuskers competition and was the 1st prize winner for Ms Smith in this competition. Subsequent to his naming, previous submissions thought to be Timaka were able to be distinguished through the markings as Bidzane and showed that the bull had been noted as early as 2005. Bidzane is a young bull, but definitely has the potential to become one of the substantial tuskers.

  • More information: on Gus 'Bidzane' Adendorff, letter and extract from the Elephant Hall.

Botsotso

Photo by John Carlyon

Photo by John Carlyon

Origin of Name: ‘Botsotso’ is Tsonga and refers to particular style of jeans that were worn in the olden days and is a direct reference to the large very prominent folds of skin on the rear of this bull making it one of his identification characteristics’.
Range: Northern and Far Northern KNP.
Special Features: Once again we have a bull with similar tusk shape to Matlakusa and Xindzulundzulu although this bulls straight and symmetrical ivory is not as widely splayed and shows a curve inwards of both tusks towards the bottom when seen from a frontal view. His most notable ear markings are found on his left ear. At the bottom on the lobe there is a deep u-shaped tear in the tip of the lobe. Further up towards the middle of the lobe there is a small v-shaped notch in the outer lobe, above this towards the top of the lobe there is a deeper w-shaped notch, both of these are only visible in high resolution images. In earlier images there are signs that the right tusk experienced a small break, this has subsequently smoothed over and the re-growth has allowed the tusks to remain fairly symmetrical. The right lobe lacks any significant markings. The trunk does offer a few characteristics’ namely at the lip line on the right tusk there is a scarring growth that looks like a tennis/golf ball between the tusk and trunk.
General: This is another bull that started out being monitored slowly as there was only one submission of him by Brian McCullum in 2010. A further single submission by Terry de Souza in 2011 confirmed the identifying characteristics of this bull, however it was still felt that with limited submissions he should continue to be monitored. In 2014 - 2016 sightings of the bull increased dramatically and it was decided to confirm his status as a large bull by naming him.

Hahlwa

Photo by Deborah Gage

Photo by Deborah Gage

Origin of Name: The name ‘Hahlwa’ Tsonga meaning ‘twin’ was given to this bull due to the background and history towards his final identification. The tusks and the ear markings of this bull resemble almost identically those of Masasana and in many images would seem to be his twin.
Range: Northern KNP.
Special Features: This tusker has easily identifiable features although these can easily be confused with those of Masasana whose features are almost identical with the exception of a notch in the right ear. The right tusk of this bull is slightly longer and straighter then the left tusk which has a small curve at the tip. The tusks like Masasana are close together and from a side profile appear straight. The left ear has a w-shaped notch that has a piece skin hanging in the middle forming the ’w’ shape towards the middle of the ear very similar to Masasana, the right ear is the biggest differing identification mark between the bulls, a wide square notch is visible on the lower right lobe. An oval tennis ball sized growth as with Masasana is also visible on his left front leg close to the top but this is not always prominently seen in images. The thickening on the trunk closely resembles the thick line markings on Masasana although with a small variation in shape towards the centre of the trunk and top left close to the ivory lip.
General: This bull caused large confusion with his initial sightings in October 2015 by Kobie Naude and Tara-Lynn Svensson, primary due to the majority of the bulls identification markings being virtually identical to Masasana but as the bull was sighted in the far north an area considered unusual for Masasana who until recently had remained local to the more northern regions. Despite close scrutiny of all the identifying features by several experts’ confirmation of his identity could not be offered. The ‘new’ notch in the right ear left the questions was this Masasana extending his home range due to the dry conditions prevailing in the KNP in 2015/16 which was a distinct possibility as many known bulls had changed their ‘traditional’ movements due to water shortages? Did he pick up a new notch in the right ear which would not be unusual either? or did we have a new bull? A committed answer to these questions could not be made until confirmed sightings of Masasana were received as the bulls were just too similar. Fortunately the wait was not long and sightings of the ‘twin bull’ in late January 2016 by Jan Momberg in the far north and Masasana in the north in March 2016 by Matt Axel confirmed that there were two bulls. The sighting of Masasana was fortunately a good one which showed both ears clearly and confirmed that the right ear of Masasana was still without any prominent markings.

Machachule

Photo by David Johnson

Photo by David Johnson

Origin of Name: Machachule has been named in memory of Corporal Joe Managanyi who served 33 years service for the Kruger National Park. (Machachule meaning ‘the lead dancer’ this name was given this name by his staff as he was known as a very strict worker who did not waste time and who had to do things immediately, leading by example)
Range: Shingwedzi
Special Features: Large uneven v-shaped tear in the right ear towards the middle of the lobe, top part of the v-shape more elongated then the bottom. Left ear has a medium sized square shaped notch towards the middle of the lobe, small flap of skin directly below this.
General: Machachule, was discovered initially by Dr Ian Whyte (SANParks) in the Shingwedzi area, during the aerial census in 2004. This bull was noted as to be watched but seemed to have kept a low profile with only a few known recording of him, in 2006 by Grant Knight recorded him again during the aerial census, and a guest Jose van der Hoorn noted him in November 2005 and May 2006. This was until recently when numerous sightings were recorded in 2007, and it would seem he has now become a regular feature for guests in the Shingwedzi area. This bull was named in 2008 during the judging of the 2007 Emerging Tuskers Competition year.

Joe ‘Machachule’ Manganye: (1935 – 2005)
Joe was a long serving member of the SANParks family. Joe retired as a Field Ranger Corporal from the Mahlangene Section of the Kruger National Park in 2002, after 33 years service.

Madolo

Photo by Matthew Durrel

Photo by Matthew Durrel

Origin of Name: Named in honor of Johan Kloppers who served 36 years in conservation in the Kruger National Park (Madolo meaning ‘Knee’s’, was given to Johan due to his penchant for walking. According to staff who knew him well he inherited this name due to his unique stride when walking)
Range: Skukuza/Kruger Gate towards Pretoriuskop
Special Features: Symmetrical ivory with left tusk slightly longer then the right. Mandolo had relatively clean ears however there are small v-shaped notches in the left ear, towards the centre and lower sections of the ear lobe, a small hole below the lower notch in the left ear is also visible.
General: This bull has been seen on two occasions by the same person Mr Matthew Durell who on both occasions provided a detailed photographic series providing a comprehensive data base of this bull. This bull was named in 2008 during the judging of the 2007 Emerging Tuskers Competition and was awarded 3rd prize in the same competition.

Masasana

Photo by Dr Ian Whyte

Photo by Dr Ian Whyte

Origin of Name: ‘Masasana’ a Tsonga word meaning ‘One can always make a plan’ was named in recognition of Johan Sithole who served the Kruger National Park in both the Conservation and Scientific Services departments in a career that spanned 35 years before his retirement on the 4th March 2008.
Range: This bull predominates in the Letaba area but has been seen at Mopani and between the Malopenyana and Middlevlei waterhole.
Special Features: This tusker has easily identifiable features that are visible from all angles. The right tusk is thicker and straighter than the left tusk and previously showed a very prominent 'grass' notch in the tip of the tusk. The left tusk also has a slight notch but considerably less prominent. The left ear has a w-shaped notch that has a piece skin hanging in the middle forming the 'w' shape towards the middle of the ear. The right ear does not have any notable features and is fairly clean edged. An oval tennis ball sized growth is visible on his left front leg close to the top as well as some thickening on his trunk. Recent images of this bull in 2014 showed that he has broken the tips of both his tusks at the grass notches giving a chiseled appearance to the end of his tusks. Fortunately very little length has been lost and his continues to develop as an impressive emerging tusker.
General: Masasana was first recorded in 2006 outside the Letaba Rest Camp and was considered of sufficient interest to monitor. Sightings in November 2009 by Dr Ian Whyte (see Masthulele) between the Malopenyana and Middlevlei waterholes and a further sighting in May 2010 at Letaba with him and well known tusker Mashangaan, confirmed his status as an emerging tusker. He was named in 2011. This tusker has since grown and has continued to be regularly seen between Mopani and Letaba.

Matlakusa

Photo by Joel Roerig

Photo by Joel Roerig

Origin of Name: ‘Matlakusa’ from tlakusa, is Tsonga meaning to ‘raise, lift up’, this is a large open pan and bore-hole, alongside the eastern border, southeast of Malonga in the Kruger National Park and links to this bull’s large home range.
Range: Northern and Far Northern KNP.
Special Features: This bull’s ivory closely resembles that of Xindzulundzulu, that it is fairly symmetrical, straight and widely splayed with a shallow curve from a side profile. The left ear holds the defining characteristics that separate these two bulls, there is a R5.00 sized hole in the tip of the lobe as well as an area of damaged cartilage at the top give a large v-shaped ‘collapse’ in the ear. A very small u-shaped notch and two R0.20 holes are visible on the middle of the lobe but only at close inspection and with the ears extended. The right earlobe had a R0.50 sized hole towards the bottom of the lobe that has recently been torn and is now a u-shaped notch with a small hole towards the inner lobe above this. Other than this the lobe is fairly clean edged. A small protrusion of skin is visible on the trunk at the top adjacent the left tusk. Visible from a side profile is a growth on the left foreleg behind the leg just above the joint.
General: Initial images of this bull from Joël and Di Roerig were identified as Xindzulundzulu due to his ivory shape. Later in 2014 a full series of images submitted by Julio de Castro between Shingwedzi and Balalala created a dilemma as at the time as Xindzulundulu was known to only be local to Shingwedzi and a new bull was suspected. Additional images by regular contributor Frans van Achterbergh submitted showing his left and right side allowed the defining characteristic’s to be seen and to be able to determine that there were in fact two separate bulls. This revelation allowed two previous sightings one of which was by Ian & Deirdre Outram and the other by Forum member Lion Queen both in 2012 that were both previously thought to be Xindzulundzulu but could not be confirmed as the locations did not make sense and defining characteristics in these images were not very clear. However the receipt of the 2014 submission with clearer images could confirm these identifications. Several other images placed with Xindzulundzulu’s monitoring file could now also be separated out as being those of Matlakusa and in 2015/6 it was decided that sightings of him were sufficient to name the bull confirming his status.

Mavalanga

Photo by Anja Stolk

Photo by Robert Bryden

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Piet Otto who served firstly as a helicopter pilot and later as Head of Flight and Game Capture operations in the Kruger National Park 25 years. (Mavalanga is shangaan meaning ‘one who has very good eyesight’, this refers to Piet’s exception ability to spot game on census long before anyone else for this he was dubbed “Mr Eye’s” by those who worked with him).
Range: This bull has a very large home range and has been recorded in Pafuri, around Babalala and as far South as Bangu in the Olifants Trail area.
Special Features: This bull has very substantial curved ivory. He has a notable thickening on his trunk that has a “doughnut” appearance with a definite depression in the middle. Hi right ear has a small “R2.00” sized hole towards the upper edge of the lobe as well as a small v-shaped notch with the bottom part of the notch extending past the end of the lobe line. The left ear has a prominent wide u-shaped notch below the middle area of the lobe as well as a similar shaped notch slightly above the middle of the lobe the is bisected by a small extension of skin (this is not usually visible unless the ears are open) A small “R2.00” at the tip of the ear lobe is also visible from a frontal or left side angle.
General: This elephant was first recorded by Anja Stolk in September 2008 as part of the emerging tuskers competition. Due to immense distances between locations of other submission in 2008 by Johan Marais (author Great Tuskers of Southern Africa) and in 2009 by Robert Bryden (Co-odinator Guides, Nxanatseni Region) these were originally thought to be of ‘new bulls’. Upon investigation and the recording of the identification features for Mavalanga it is now clear these are of the same bull and have served to highlight the immensely large roaming range of this magnificent tusker.
Piet ‘Mavalanga” Otto: Piet Otto started working for SANParks as a pilot based in Skukuza on the 1 May 1977. In August 1977 he married Karin and they had two daughters, Inge and Lize.

Mbazo

Photo by Nicole Cordes

Photo by Nicole Cordes

Origin of Name: Named for Lynn van Rooyen who served in conservation for South African National Park for 39 years. (Mbazo meaning ‘axe’ refers to Lynn’s early years as a ranger where he was known to lead field patrols armed only with an axe)
Range: This bull has been in the Orpen Gate area, and is also known to frequent the area around Satara and Nwanetsi and slightly north of there towards Balule.
Special Features: This bull has very unusually shaped ivory that makes him easily recognizable, with right tusk fairly straight and the left considerably curved. Two areas of thickening on the truck between the tusks are visible in all footage of this bull. No ear notches are easily visible, although a U-shaped notch exists at the extreme bottom of the right lobe alongside the neck area.
General: This bull was first recorded in December 2008 by Nicole Cordes as part of the emerging tuskers competition in 2009, and was noted as unusual. Several submissions followed subsequent to this that clearly identifies this bulls’ stomping grounds. He was recently named confirming his ‘status’ amongst the ‘new’ era.

Ndlovane

Photo by Kevin Robertson

Photo by Kevin Robertson

Origin of Name: ‘Ndlovane’ meaning ‘Small Elephant’ has been given to this elephant not for his size but for his young age and great potential to develop into a future great tusker.
Range: Northern KNP.
Special Features: This bull has several distinguishing features some being more prominent then others. On the left ear lobe towards the bottom there are several small nodules and holes in the lobe, with a few additional nicks and nodules further up the ear which are only notable on very close inspection. The right ear lobe has a few more distinctive markings; a R0.10 hole is visible towards the bottom and middle of the lobe. Towards the top of the lobe is an inverted u-shape piece of lobe caused by two shallow u-shaped indentations in the lobe. The tusks of this bull are irregular shaped and very similar in shape to those of Ngonyama for whom this bull is often mistaken. The right tusk is straighter and longer in appearance to the left tusk which is curved forward giving the illusion of a shorter tusk. Side profiles of the ivory give the appearance of the tusks being very closer together much like Ngonyama however from a front view they are more splayed. This bull’s ivory is not as splayed as Ngonyama but the side and front profiles are similar enough to cause confusion. A slightly less notable characteristic is a remarkable lack of tail hair.
General: The first clear series of images showing this bulls’ identifying features and confirming his status as a new tusker was submitted by Kruger National Parks staff member Coenie Coetzer in 2014. This series allowed the linking of other sightings by Marc Moon in 2013 and Elize Olivier in 2012. These previous submissions were considered valuable enough to open monitoring files but due to the angle of the bull or image quality the defining characteristics could not be fully determined.

This bull is often mistaken for Ngonyama as the tusk shape is very similar, however the distinctive hole in the left ear lobe, thickening on the trunk as well as growths on the rear are not visible in this bull and as mentioned previously indicated the ivory on this bull is closer together.

Sightings of this bull increased dramatically in 2014 - 2016 leading to the decision to name him and confirm his status as an emerging tusker.

Ngwenya

Photo by Mark Scheepers

Photo by Mark Scheepers

Origin of Name: ‘Ngwenya’ meaning Crocodile in Tsonga, originates from the favored home range of this bull.
Range: Southern KNP.
Special Features: Ngwenya has a very notable deep u-shaped notch in his left ear lobe. Less notable on the same lobe are an inverted v-shaped notch below the large notch and a v-shaped nick below this. A small R0.50 hole is visible above the inverted v-shape towards the middle of the lobe. His right ear lobe does not have any notable markings, a very small v-shaped notch is visible at time towards the middle of the lobe as well as a very shallow long u-shaped notch towards the top of the lobe. Ngwenya’s ivory is very curved and from a direct side profile the left tusk is curved higher than the right tusk.
General: This bull was first sighted by Mark Scheepers in 2013 in the far south of the KNP. At this time there was limited footage of this bull with only a second sighting by Remi Engelbrecht in December 2013 and it was decided to monitor him until more submission were made. A dramatic increase in sightings in late 2014 - 2016 cemented his status as a large tusker and the decision was taken to name him.

Ngunyupezi

Photo by AJ de Wet

Photo by Joep Stevens

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Sergeant James Maluleke who served a combined 33 years in service to the Kruger National Park. (Ngunyupezi meaning ‘one who likes to dance with woman but who will always go home at the end of the night’)
Range: Red Rocks area, between Bateleur and Shingwedzi, he has also been sighted at Babalala and more recently as far north as Pafuri.
Special Features: Left tusk is considerably longer than the right. Uniquely the left tusk has grown with the curve backwards towards the body appearing twisted and making this a very unusual elephant. Sadly, a recent sighting has shown the top of his right tusk has been broken., as this tusk was not as long as the left. Not much length has been lost with the recent break, but it would also appear the tusk is 'peeling' in some area, perhaps indicating weaker ivory. There are two distinct notches on the left ear, one shallow wide u-shaped notch close to the tip of the lobe and further up a medium square shaped notch with a loose piece of skin can be seen. Prior to 2013 this was a definite hole, but a recent sighting by Don Yunnie in 2014 show that this has been ripped open to create a square notch.
General: This bull is very shy and is seldom seen there were only two submissions of this unique elephant at the time of naming. He was first photographed by a previous employee of DataCentrix Mr Desmond Swart on the 12 March 2007. And then later by Mr AJ de Wet as part of the Emerging Tuskers competition on the 30 April 2007. Ngunyupezi was named in 2008 during the judging of the Emerging Tuskers Competition and was the 2nd prize winner in the same competition. Recently however sightings of this bull have increased and he seems to becoming a regular feature in the Shingwedzi area.

Ngonyama

Photo by CJ van Rensburg

Photo by Christiaan Janse van Rensburg

Origin of Name: Named for Uys de Villiers (Tol) Pienaar who served in conservation for South African National Park for 36 years. (Ngonyama is the Tsonga word for ‘Lion’. This nickname derives itself from an incident on the 21st July 1956 when Tol was bitten by a lioness along the Timbavati spruit (where present day Roodewal camp is). Tol was also known for his green eyes that could flash like a lion’s when angry.
Range: This bull has an average sized home range. He is known in the area between Phalaborwa and Mopani (Mayumbeni and Xilawuri Koppies) and stretches to Letaba Rest Camp.
Special Features: This elephant has very widely splayed ivory, with the right tusk appearing to be slightly longer then the left due to the curve of the left tusk but from side profile they would  appear even in length. There is a conspicuous lump (or lumps) on his left backside as well as a tiny hole at the base of the left ear lobe. Some thickening on the upper truck can also be observed.
General: This elephant was first sighted by Kobie Naude on the 5th October 2008 on the tar road towards Mopani from Phalaborwa. At the time with only one submission it was decided not to name him, he was noted as an impressive bull and monitored to see if he appeared again. This was the last heard of him until December 2009 where a sighting from Christiaan Janse van Rensburg, found him in the Letaba region of the Kruger National Park. Two subsequent sightings by GVI volunteer Jasmine Brown in February and March 2010 again in the immediate vicinity of Letaba help cement his status as a large tusker and the decision was made to name him. He appears docile and does not seem to mind the presence of guests providing good sightings.

Ntombazana

Photo by Anja Stolk

Photo by Anja Stolk

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Bruce Robert Bryden who served in conservation with South African National Park for 29 years. (Ntombazana is the shangaan word meaning ‘young lady’ this name was affectionately bestowed on him by his staff referring to his love of the ladies when he first arrived in the Kruger National Park).
Range: This bull has been recorded predominately in the Letaba and Olifants area, around the junction of the H1-5 and the S46.
Special Features: The bull has substantial and thick ivory. Ear notches are particularly prominent with notably ‘punch hole’ type notch in his left ear with a ‘R2.00’ sized hole slightly above this. His right ear has a ‘w’ shaped notch towards the upper lobe (this is a u-shaped notch with a loose skin piece dividing the area), several other ragged notches are also evident in the right lower ear lobe.
General: This bull was first recorded in 2008 by Anja Stolk as part of the emerging tuskers competition in 2009 and was recently named. Little is known about this bull as he seems to shy away from camera’s it is hoped over time footage will improve given his recent confirmed ‘status’ amongst the ‘new’ era.

Nwashinangana

Photo by Barry Swart

Photo by Barry Swart

Origin of Name: Named in honor of Ted Whitfield, who served as a Section Ranger in the Kruger National Park for 24 years. (Nwashinangana meaning ‘somebody that blows the animal horn’, due to his habit of whistling softly while he was working)
Range: Imbali (Mluwati) Concession, Kingfisherspruit, Tshokwane and Lower Sabie
Special Features: Very substantial thick ivory widely splayed. This bull has 2 small v-shaped notches in his right ear, towards the centre and bottom of the lobe. His left tusk is longer and less curved then the right tusk. There is a tennis ball sized growth on the left flank about 50cm from the tail of the bull. Two small notches spaced approximately 10cm apart at the top of the left ear lobe
General: This bull has been seen on numerous occasions over the last year (2007/8) and seems to be becoming on the popular tuskers to photograph. From these submissions it has been noted that this bull has a very large home range stretching from Orpen Gate to Lower Sabie Restcamp. He was recorded in 2006 and has grown substantial since then attracting far more attention in recent years. He was named in 2008 during the judging for the 2007 Emerging Tuskers competition and received 1st prize in the same competition.

N’watindlopfu

Photo by Tara-Lynn Svensson

Photo by Tara-Lynn Svensson

Origin of Name: N’watindlopfu spruit in the Kruger National Park meaning ‘spruit of the elephants’ in Tsonga and refers to the historical site where in 1987 a striking and relatively well preserved panel of rock paintings depicting a group of four elephants on a small granite koppie alongside this spruit was found. The is reference to the proof of the early existence of elephants in the Kruger National Park and therefore links to the great discover that was this bulls sudden appearance as a large tusker.
Range: Far Northern KNP.
Special Features: Small u&v-shaped notches in the right ear throughout the lobe. A larger u & v-shaped nick is present in the upper part of the same lobe. The left lobe has more distinct markings and when fully open an inverted wide u-shape is visible in the middle of the lobe. In the lower level of the lobe small u&v-shaped notches are visible. N’watindlopfu has a very slightly thickened area of skin on the upper and middle regions of his trunk. There is a small elongated growth on the upper front thigh that is visible from his left side. His ivory is what would be referred to as the typical Kruger shape with one tusk long and straighter then a slightly shorter more curved tusk curving at different levels. In his case the right tusk is the straighter and shows indication of an old chip off the tip.
General:This large bull had an interesting start in the tuskers project, a sighting on the 31st July 2014 initially created great confusion as to an ID on such an impressive bull due to an unclear location and similarities to other known bulls. Through back-tracking it was established that he was seen north of Shingwedzi towards Babalala and it was confirmed as we had suspected that we had a new tusker. Further submissions by regular contributors in quick succession recently close to Babalala with clear images of the left ear markings and tusks confirmed this bull as a new tusker to the area. This bull seems to prefer being out of the limelight which is perhaps why it took so long to find him.

N’wendlamuhari

Photo by Anton Jeffrey

Photo by Anton Jeffery

Origin of Name: ‘N’wendlamuhari’ is Shangaan for the Sand River which means ‘the river that is fierce when in flood’ the name links to the bulls preferred location to a spruit which is known for its dramatic flooding in heavy rains.
Range: Northern KNP.
Special Features: Most notable on this bull is his ivory, his left tusk suffered a dramatic break many years back and while there has been substantial growth of the tusk since then, there is a marked difference in length between the two tusks. The left tusk break has smoothed over time and has developed quiet a prominent point to it. There are very few notable ear markings on this bull and aside from a small v-shaped nick visible in the left lobe towards the top and small u-shaped marks towards the top of the right ear lobe which are only visible in high resolution aside from this he has fairly clean ears. Visible from a left side profile are a cluster of small growths on the front of the left foreleg fairly high up the leg. These are often obscured by the ear lobe in frontal images.
General: This bull was first noted by retired Mooiplaas Section Ranger Johann Oelofse (see Mabarule) in 2010, shortly after the death of the similar looking Mandhevhu. As these images did not identify any defining characteristics it was decided to monitor him, a second submission by Johan Marais in 2011 confirmed this bull’s status but it was decided to continue to monitor him to determine if there would be any continued growth.

Submissions of this bull increased dramatically at the end of 2013 and throughout 2014 - 2016, all submissions showing considerable growth in the broken tusk therefore the decision was made to name the bull confirming his status as a large tusker.

Thandamamba

Photo by Jenni Lane

Photo by Jenni Lane

Origin of Name: Named for Sgt Aaron Nkuna who served as a Field Ranger in the Kruger National Park 37 years. (Thandamamba is the zulu work for “the one who is fond of the black mamba snake / the black mamba snake lover”, this unusual name came about during a conversation with Brian Harris (ex-section ranger Stolznek), where Aaron indicated the one thing he loved most about the KNP was the snakes particularly the black mamba).
Range: This bull predominates in the very Southern area of the Kruger National Park, and has been sighted in the Malelane/Stolznek areas of the South, around the Gardenia Hide and the Mlambane confluence and is a regular visitor to the Jock Concession.
Special Features: This bull has very substantial ivory in weight and given he is a younger bull it is hoped he will continue to develop further. His ivory is fairly splayed with the left tusk lightly straighter and longer then the right. His right ear has several distinguishing ear notches, the most notable being a v-shaped tear in the middle of the outer lobe and a u-shaped notch at the based of the lobe close to the neckline.
General: This bull has been a regular sighting from the aerial census since 2007 and has been recorded by Stolznek ranger Rob Thompson. However it wasn’t until a sighting in January 2008 by Jenni Lane submitted as part of the emerging tusker’s competition that this bulls distinguishing features could be identified and therefore allow his ‘status’ as a new tusker to be confirmed.

Timaka

Photo by Dr Ian Whyte

Photo by Dr Ian Whyte

Origin of Name: Timaka was named in memory of Lance Corporal Wilson Ndlovu who was sadly killed by an elephant in the line of duty as a Field Ranger at the Stolznek section.
Range: Dzombo windmills south of Shingwedzi
Special Features: Notable v shaped notch with inverted v-shaped section of ear on the left ear lobe, the result of a tear. A small hole in the middle of the inverted v-shaped section can be seen towards the upper middle section of the shape.
General: This elephant was only identified from photographs taken during the 2004 elephant census. He was seen in the area around the Dzombo windmills south of Shingwedzi. He appears to be a young bull and has potential as a future big tusker.

Tsotsi

Photo by Sarah Webb

Photo by Sarah Webb

Origin of Name: Named in memory of Ampie ‘Tsotsi’ Espag, who spent many years in the service of the Kruger National Park as both a ranger and hospitality manager. (Tsotsi, meaning sneaky, trouble maker, skelm)
Range: Letaba Rest Camp
Special Features: Tsosti has very symmetrical substantial weighted ivory, with the left tusk slightly more curved upwards then the right. There is a notable u-shaped notch in the right ear lobe towards the top, with a square notch approximately 15cm below this. 2 small holes approximately 5cm apart on the right ear lobe slightly below the centre part of the ear lobe, not always visible.
General: Tsotsi is a well know inhabitant of the Letaba area, who has a penchant for destroying fences around the camp and staff villages, it was for this reason that the staff felt it appropriate for him to share the name Tsotsi with Ampie Espag for his cheeky habits. He was first recorded photographically in 2004 by Kirsty Redman. At this stage while his tusks had significant weight they had not developed in length, none the less as a young bull he had the potential to develop. In the subsequent years Tsotsi has hit a growth spurt and his tusk length has almost double since he was first recorded. As a result it is felt that Tsotsi has the potential to become one of the Kruger National Parks big tuskers. Tsotsi was named in 2007 during the judging for the 2006 Emerging Tuskers Competition year.

Vusopfa

Photo by Gary Flockhart

Photo by Gary Flockhart

Origin of Name: Tsonga meaning ‘untidy’ Vusopfa refers to the heavily torn and ‘scraggly’ ears of this bull making him easily identifiable.
Range: Northern KNP.
Special Features: This bull has very distinctive features most notably a very marked left ear with multiple u&v-shaped notches of varying sizes throughout the full length of the ear lobe, a small hole at the top of the lobe is also visible when the lobe is fully displayed. The right lobe is less ‘scraggly’ but also supports notable markings. A notable long extended u-shaped notch is clearly visible at the lower point of the lobe, an uneven ‘w-shaped’ notch can be seen towards the middle of the lobe. From a frontal view this elephant’s ivory is fairly wide apart and symmetrical, with both tusks growing fairly straight and curving at the tip. From a side profile the left tusk appears more curved then the right.
General: This bull was first sighted by Gary Flockhart in December 2013, at first due to the wide ivory this bull was confused with Ngonyama, however additional images provided by Gary confirmed this was a new bull.

With no other submission at the time it was decided to monitor him until additional sighting could confirm his status. Sightings since then were limited with a few confirmed sightings in late 2014 and early 2015 increasing in 2016; due to this it was felt that there was sufficient evidence of his characteristics to name him and confirm his status as an emerging tusker.

Xindzulundzulu

Photo by Tara-Lynn Svensson

Photo by Tara-Lynn Svensson

Origin of Name: Xindzulundzulu is Tsonga for ‘walking round and round in circles’ this is in reference to this bull’s very localized home range.
Range: Far Northern KNP.
Special Features: This bull has very distinct ivory that is widely splayed from a front view, long and straight with tapered ends appearing pointed, the left tusk having a slightly rounded tip with a dip in the tip. Side profiles of the bull do show a shallow curve. His ear lobes are fairly clean, with a small v-shaped notch in the right ear towards the top of the lobe. The left ear has 2 small notches mid ear creating a u-shape in between these. Very small growths appear on the thigh of the rear left leg.
General: This bull was first sighted by Section Ranger Robert Bryden in 2009, at the time he was considered a worthwhile bull to monitor. The ivory lacked significant length, but given his young age it was decided to monitor him. Very limited sightings of him were submitted in the upcoming years, however a growth spurt in his ivory in 2014 drew more attention to him and sightings of him increased considerably in 2014 - 2016. Given this significant growth and current length it was decided to name him confirming his status as a large tusker.