Big tusker on safari

A recent video of the big tusker called Ezulwini taken during a safari drive at Pondoro Game Lodge. He is a gentle giant that frequents the western parts of Balule Nature Reserve and is seen regularly during drives. I first saw and photographed him at Ngala dam not far from Pondoro camp in 2009. His tusks were a lot smaller, but the potential was plain to see.

Only two-thirds of the tusk is visible externally. Tusks grow continuously throughout an elephant’s life. Because the rate of growth in the length of the tusk is constant and the circumference of the tusk is increasing simultaneously, the mass of a tusk in a male African elephant increases at an escalating rate with the major weight gain late in the elephant’s life.

Ezulwini is now in the prime of his life and there are still a lot of room for future tusk growth, meaning he will be magnificent in a few years’ time.

I thought it would be interesting to include some information of big tuskers of yesteryear. Some 4 decades ago, seven outstanding elephant bulls roamed the Kruger National Park. What identified them as exceptional was their huge and exceptionally fine tusks – all with a mass in excess of 100 pounds.

The Magnificent seven:

Mafunyane – named so in honor of a previous warden of the park who had as irascible a temperament as his pachydermal namesake

Tusk weight and length:

Left 55.1kg     251cm

Right 55.1 kg     251cm

Shingwedzi – frequented the area around Shingwedzi rest camp

Tusk weight and length:

Left 47.2kg      207cm

Right 58.1kg      264 cm

Shawu – was mostly seen in the Shawu valley in Kruger

Tusk weight and length:

Left 52.7 kg      316cm

Right 50.8kg      305.5cm

Dzombo – his preference was the Dzombo catchment area

Tusk weight and length:

Left 55.5kg      255cm

Right 56.8kg      237cm

Joao – named after the Joao windmill where he was 1st seen – which in turn received its name from the famous 19th century pioneer and hunter Joao Albasini

Tusk weight (estimated) and length:

Left 70kg     271cm

Right 60 kg     250cm

Kambaku – named so in recognition of famous tuskers in the career of elephant hunter Harry Manners

Tusk weight and length:

Left 63.2kg     259cm

Right 64kg     265cm

Ndulamithi – in recognition of a famous tusker in the career of elephant hunter Cecil Barnard

Tusk weighted and length: 

Left 64.6 kg      287cm

Right 57.2kg      273 cm

The Greater Kruger National Park is the only area where visitors can stand a realistic chance of seeing a big tusker. For those lucky few, the sight of a big tusker in the wild is an unforgettable and surreal experience. I have seen 3, including the famous Tshokwane and even have a photo as proof!

 

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