Kruger's Great Tusker
Only a handful of the elephants roaming the Kruger National Park will go on to become Great Tuskers. To be considered a member of this prestigious group, each tusk needs to weigh in excess of 45 kg. Only then will they be considered amongst the ranks of Duke and the magnificent seven on display in Letaba’s Elephant Hall.
In April 2011 we were fortunate to film Masthulele, one of Kruger’s few elephants considered by experts to be “Great Tuskers”. In typical fashion, after a week of driving through the Letaba Section in search of him, he came to us.
In the midst of lunch at Letaba rest camp a herd of male elephants came down to drink. As they got closer we saw it was Masthulele and his ascaris (ascari refers to the younger bulls). They stayed by the river the whole afternoon, with the smallest ascari sticking close to Masthulele at all times. It gave us the most wonderful opportunity to film one of Kruger’s most iconic living elephants as he ate, drank and waded along the Letaba River.
An elephants tusk only really starts to grow big when they begin to use their last set of teeth. As the calcium they take up in their diet can then all be put into tusk growth. This means that by the time an elephant becomes a Tusker it is usually quite old and their time with us is often short. Knowing this made our time spent with Masthulele even more special.
© This video belongs to the Southern African Natural History Unit.
Find out about Tembe's great tuskers – click here.
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