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Kruger: Images and memories

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For many people that visit the Kruger the lure is not the big five but the prolific bird life. The Park has a rich variety of just over 490 species and more than half the total found in Southern Africa. About 280 of these are permanent residents in the Park and the rest are seasonal migrants. There are a few gems to look for in Kruger like the Pel’s Fishing Owl and the Narina Trogan, but I want to talk about the delightful Hornbills found in the Park. In Kruger there are 6 hornbill species.


First up the Southern Ground Hornbill. This turkey-sized hornbill is highly threatened outside conservation areas due to habitat loss. Though a strong flyer he prefers to walk and is very inquisitive, sometimes walking up to the car, cocking his head sideways to look at you through those large black eyes with luscious eye lashes, to die for!




In African folklore, the ground hornbill is revered as magical and should not be harmed. It is said that if a ground hornbill comes to your door there will be a death in the family but if you do not harm it and manage to chase it away there will be no death in the family. Killing the bird is construed as murder. Because the call of the ground hornbill mimics the sound of thunder, it is also associated with the start of the rainy season.




Next, the Trumpeter Hornbill. There are no folklores here. If by any chance you hear a baby crying while driving in the Park, then you have found the Trumpeter Hornbill. They are usually found roosting in trees in flocks.






The Southern Yellow-billed and Red-billed Hornbill are the clowns of the Park. At any rest camp and picnic sites, as you settle down to enjoy a meal, they come running in their ungainly way on short legs, looking quite comical with their large robust bills. They are irrepressible beggars and, given half a chance, food thieves too.








The Red-billed and Yellow-billed Hornbills are known to follow dwarf mongooses as they forage for food, snatching up any small prey that try to escape. Hornbills also give alarm calls and that serves as a warning to the mongooses. A good example of co-operation between different animals.










Then, the African Grey Hornbill. Compared to the rest of the Hornbills they are rather drab looking. The overall appearance is grey but the tip of the female’s bill is red. Lipstick, ruby red!


African Grey Hornbills have been known to lay fertile eggs three weeks after the female has been sealed off from her mate in the nest cavity.

Though we have seen the grey hornbills in the Park, sadly I have no decent photos to share.


The Crowned Hornbill is the one that has eluded us in all our years of travelling to the Park. So there are no photos to share.




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Travelling north on the H1-2 to Tshokwane, you will come across two memorial tablets set into huge granite rocks. The first one commemorates Mrs. Eileen Orpen for her donation of seven farms which were situated on the western border of the Park between Orpen and the Oifants River.


The second tablet is 2km further on and commemorates the Institution of National Parks in the Union of South Africa, the proclamation of the Sabie Game Reserve by President Kruger in 1898 and the National Parks Act introduced in parliament by the Minister of Lands, Mr. P.G. Grobler in 1926.

Tshokwane is known as the area of the “white animals.” A confirmed sighting of a white lion was of an 18 month old male seen by ranger Pat Wolff.

Around 1985/6 a snow white kudu bull was seen by several people around the Tshokwane area.


A buffalo with white facial markings was also seen around Tshokwane, on the H10 to Lower Sabie. This was also recorded in the 1985.

By far the most amazing sighting was that of two king cheetahs seen by a student, Johan du Toit, on 25 February 1986. They had been seen a few times after that as well. Unfortunately not by us!


Orpen Dam on the H10 just a few kilometres from Tshokwane is an ideal quiet spot to relax and enjoy the animals and birds come to the water.

Moving still north from Tshokwane on the H1-3 to Satara was one of our most exciting sightings. There are a few waterholes all along the way, the Mazithi, the N’watinungu and Kumana Dam.


It was at Kumana Dam that we came across this wonderful scene. Two leopards together, not very far from the dam and out in the open. They were a mating pair!




To find one leopard would have been wonderful but to find a mating pair was very special. We watched in awe at this pair because normally leopards do not display their mating rituals in the open.


She tried to entice him






We watched and waited patiently, hoping we would see them mating.








Suddenly from behind us a herd of buffalos rushed towards the water. A few old bulls saw the leopards and decided they did not like the company. The leopards had to go.






The leopards were not happy and we were not happy







but the buffalos were delighted!




Spoil sports!


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In this post I would like to share the Rollers and Bee-eaters with you.


From the roller species we have yet to see the elusive Racket tailed Roller, which is only found in the north, in the Pafuri area, and the Broad-billed roller.


Of the bee-eater family we have not yet seen the blue-cheeked Bee-eater.


A Lilac-breasted tragedy in Kruger.


A Lilac-breasted Roller cost the life of a young German adventurer on the Voortrekker Road late in the 19th century. Adolf Soltke was hitching a ride on a transport wagon when he apparently saw a Lilac-breasted Roller close by. In his haste to jump off the wagon and shoot the bird for his collection, he shot himself in his leg. He died of gangrene several days later and was buried close to the reputed birth place of Jock of the Bushveld.


The site is accessible off the Voortrekker Road (H2-2) between Ship Mountain and Afsaal in Kruger National Park.


From Best Birding in Kruger by Brett-Hilton Barber and Lou Arthur




The Lilac-breasted Roller, a flying rainbow, is one of the most photographed birds in Kruger.




The colourful lilac-breasted Roller is often known as Mosilikatze’s Roller, because the powerful Matabele King reserved the beautiful bird’s feathers for his own use.






The Purple Roller





European Roller







The other colourful birds found in Kruger in numbers are the Bee-eaters. All Southern African bee-eaters have a black band through the eye. Their long pointed wings make them highly manoeuverable and fast fliers. They catch their prey in flight and always return to the same perch to eat.


European Bee-eater.



Southern Carmine Bee-eater





White fronted Bee-eater



Little Bee-eater





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The area from Skukuza to Satara is exceptional for viewing a variety of game, be it cats, birds or herbivores, large and small. My favourite antelope is the sable antelope and the S36 is the best road to find them on.


Therefore we prefer to take the gravel road, S36 rather than the H1-3 tar road. It is quieter and you have a better chance of spotting the shy sable antelopes. There are a few waterholes on the way that are worth stopping at. First up there is Jones se Dam, an earthen dam, named after Colonel Rowland-Jones, a ranger who helped to build the dam. Here we had some wonderful sable sightings. Lions are often found in the area as well.







The Tinhongana waterhole, meaning flies, was so named by Ranger Johan Kloppers because of the flies that followed the wildebeest on their migration, when this borehole was sunk.


The roads, S34, S33, S125 and S126, leading onto the S36 from the main road are also abundant with game. Well worth driving.


There are two picnic sites you can stop and relax at on this road. One being Nhlanguleni, meaning “at the magic Guarri.” Magic Guarri is a multi stemmed shrub found all over the Park.


Further on you get the Muzandzeni, meaning “at the Tsessebe,” named after the tsessebe antelope that were seen here by Ranger Kloppers while on patrol.


These are photos of sables seen at various spots along the S36




















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Panthera Pardus

The S36 has been the best road for Sable Antelopes in our experience. Sightings in recent times have been erratic and hopefully this will change as Kruger Management are relooking at their Artificial Waterhole Policy and destroying many of the artificial waterholes.


The rationale is given as, and I quote,


"The reason for the closures being that during periods of drought; the animals do not migrate to areas with natural water resources. They congregate at the manmade ones where they denude the area of natural resources by overgrazing and by trampling the surrounding soil to dust.

This congregation of prey at the manmade watering points, then results into an unnatural increase of the larger predator species into the area, where they then can obtain easy prey of which many are of the scarcer species being Tsessebe, Sable and Roan, resulting in the unnatural reduction of their numbers"

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I believe / know there are other reasons to close some of these artifical waterholes:


after building some in the far north, a lot of herds of zebras and zebras went north as well and naturally lions followed...one reason why right now there seem to be no more wild dogs north of Orpen / Satara

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This episode is about the Vultures of Kruger.


The White Backed Vulture is the most common in Kruger.



They soar at great heights and depend on other vultures and Bateleur Eagles to lead them to a kill. At the kill they can drive other vultures from the kill by sheer numbers. They prefer the soft flesh and intestines and also bone fragments.

The Lappet –faced Vulture is threatened and there are only 49 breeding pairs in KNP – one of the big 6 birds. This is our largest Raptor with a formidable beak that can tear apart the skin of the carcass.



They tend to feed on the skin, tendons and ligaments which other vultures cannot process. They are often the last to arrive at a kill but quickly assert their dominance.

In contrast the Hooded Vultures use their delicate bills to probe for small pieces of meat left on the carcass after the other vultures have had their fill.



The White Headed Vulture is a rare sighting in Kruger. Often arrives first at a carcass but cannot compete with larger vultures when they arrive.



There are only 500 breeding pairs in the whole of Southern Africa. Dropped scraps and tougher material such as skin, as well as insects therefore form an important part of their diet. It is suspected of making kills of bird chicks and pirates food from other Raptors.

The Cape Vulture which goes for the flesh of the carcass using its sharp mandibles to eat muscles and organs.




Very rarely the Egyptian and Palm Nut Vultures are also seen In Kruger


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Long before Kruger was proclaimed, a group of surveyors were working their way, marking and dividing the land into farms. Among them was one Indian surveyor and as he marked this area, he named it ‘Satra” meaning seventeen in Hindi.


Today this is Satara, a very popular camp in Kruger.


It is not set in a hillside with spectacular views or along the river bank where you can watch herds of animals come to drink. Satara is set on the flat, open grassland having a feel of spaciousness and vastness. Miles and miles of beautiful Africa.


You are now in big cat country! This camp lies on the basaltic flats, which offer sweet, nutritious grazing on open plains, the best in the Park. Large concentrations of herbivores occur here. You can encounter herds of elephants and buffalos. Large herds of zebras and wildebeest are found grazing on the plains as well. This area is the best place to see a lion kill in Kruger.


Any of the roads, in any direction from Satara is very often productive. The dilemma is which direction do you go first! Travelling west on the H7, the Nsemani Dam, very close to the main road is an ideal spot to watch animals and birds come to the water. Large herds of elephants can be seen frolicking in the water. Fish Eagles can regularly be seen and heard and crocodiles are often seen basking in the sun.


The S12, a little loop leads to Girivana Waterhole, an excellent waterhole to just park off and chill under the huge and majestic sycamore fig tree. We have seen lion trying to take an impala here, seen an altercation between a lioness and three hyenas over a carcass.


From Satara another direction to travel is the east on the famous S100 which runs along the Nwanetsi River, translation: “reflections of the moon.” This 16km road is a paradise for animals and especially for cat sightings. It is a perfect habitat for the lion, leopard and cheetah with ample prey available. It has open vegetation on the one side which allows for spotting the herds of zebras and wildebeests and buffalos. Giraffes can also be seen lining the horizon. Thick, rich riverine vegetation along the river banks are ideal places for leopards and lions to lie in wait for animals. The S100 leads to the S41 and here the N’wanetsi Picnic Site with a thatched shelter overlooks the Sweni River and is a haven for bird lovers. A return trip to Satara can be made driving along the H6, N’wanetsi Road.


S126 Sweni Road is another road which runs along the Sweni River and there are two waterholes at which animals like to congregate. Muzandzeni Picnic Site lies at the end of this road and here is a good place to stretch your legs before heading off up or down the S36. These roads are quieter than the main road and a very good chance of seeing sables.


Talamati Bushveld Camp, a small cosy camp sits on the S140 south of Orpen Gate. The camp has a waterhole close to the gate and fence and a Hide from where you can watch lions, leopards, elephants, zebras and giraffes come to drink.


Orpen is an entrance gate and a small camp as well. There is a waterhole situated just close to fence and you can sit on your veranda and will see fair amount of game come to the waterhole. There are honey badgers that patrol the camp and raid the bins regularly at night. If you are patient you will get to see the badgers at work.

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Hi all. Just taking a break from this TR because we are off to KTP this weekend. Will resume in two weeks time when we get back.

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@@Sharifa that's OK - it means more reports and photos for us :D


Wishing you and PP a great trip!

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In the Satara surrounds we have have often seen lions, cheetah and leopard.

The main roads should not be avoided just because they have more traffic than the gravel roads. Some of our best sightings were on the tar roads.


These lions were seen on the main road between Satara and Orpen












and not very much further this cheetah on the same day









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Game Warden

Loving this thread. Brings Kruger alive for me :)

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The further north you travel in Kruger the more elephants you will see. Sometimes just a bull or two but more often you come across families.

These were seen close to Satara on the main road.


View My Video





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While staying at Satara you can travel east, west, north or south and you will be rewarded with great sightings. Which road to take especially early in the morning, this is the best time to find the cats, is the dilemma.


First up let us explore the famous S100 road. The vegetation along the S100 is open savannah and has the sweet grass which the grazing herbivores love so much. The sweet and sour grass does not refer to the taste of the grass but its nutrient content. Grasses growing on nutrient poor soil such as those derived from granite, do not receive sufficient nitrogen from the soil, and by the end of the growing season, do not have enough nutrients to sustain the grazing herbivores. This is referred to as sour grass and you tend to find fewer species of grazers in the area.


On nutrient-rich soils, such as the basalt corridor found throughout Kruger and the red rhyolite soils on the eastern Lebombo fringe, grasses receive plenty of nutrients and are therefore nutritious throughout their growing season. This is the sweet grass and able to sustain a higher density of grazers and is found around the S100 area.

Therefore large herds of buffalos, elephants, zebra and wildebeest make their home in the area. This, in turn means that there are a large amount of predators in the region. There is a high density of leopards, cheetah and lions.


In his book ‘Nightstalk” Bruce Aiken, writes about a pride of 39 lions just south of Satara. He called them the Sweni Pride.

At present there is a “Super Pride” on the S100o. It is claimed there are 30 lions in this pride. We saw a pride of 19 lions on the S100 in December 2006. Made up of 3 males, 11 females and 5 cubs





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Game Warden

@@Sharifa your topic makes me want to get back to Kruger. No need for a guide book, everything one needs is in this thread :)

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Satara Camp has a famous resident in the trees surrounding the reception area, a scops owl. He is said to be the most photographed owl in the world, so keep an eye out for him. Sometimes a bushbaby can also be seen having a snooze in the large trees in camp.




Taking the H1-4 tar road north you have a good chance of seeing leopard.








Then diverting onto the S90 is a good option too. On these roads you can get quality sightings since you have open savannah grassland and very little traffic and sometimes you could be the only car sitting at a special sighting.


Lions can be seen here. At Bangu Waterhole, a cheetah stalking a zebra foal though she did not succeed.










Take the S89 and cross over the main road and leisurely return to Satara via the S39.


You will pass the private Roodewal Bush Lodge overlooking the Timbavati River. It has to be booked en-block and there are no administration facilities and no shop. Guests are asked to bring their own supplies and do their own cooking. The camp overlooks two waterholes and has a raised wooden deck from where you can watch the game and birds surround you. Scops owls and pearl spotted and barred owlets are common. You can watch four of the big five from the comfort of your deck. Rhinos do not occur here. Only guests booked in at Roodewal are allowed access to the camp.


Following the S39 south you will come to Timbavati Picnic site where you can stretch your legs. From the Picnic Site you have the option of going back to Satara with the S125 then on to the main Road or meander on the S39 along the Timbavati River which is what I prefer. Look out for the leopard, kudu, giraffe and waterbuck all along this road.

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Another camp in the central area of the Park is Olifants, meaning elephants. This is the home of Kruger’s original elephant herd. In the 19th century ivory poaching almost decimated Kruger’s elephants- a lone group survived by hiding in the Olifants River Gorge. Elephant sightings are almost guaranteed on the loop roads around Olifants.




Drive the S90 onto the S92 because this scenic road hugs parts of the Olifants River and drive pass Balule Camp. Balule is a rustic camp with minimum facilities. This camp has a few basic huts and camping which traditionalists love, and very good for birding and game spotting. If it is the Pel’s Fishing Owl you are looking for then this area would be the best place to look out for them.


From Olifants you can book a morning walk if you want to see the Pel’s Fishing Owl. The walk takes you along the banks of the Olifants River and if you are lucky you might get to see the Pel’s roosting in a tree or see it fly off. Nothing is guaranteed but it is wonderful to be out walking in the bush.


There are very few camps in any game reserve I have been to that can match the view that Olifants Camp has. It is set on the top of a cliff overlooking the Olifants River. Looking down on the river one can watch the game coming to the river to drink without disturbing them. Watch the hippos play their territorial games and listen to their loud grunts. Watch the elephants frolicking in the mud and water while the crocodiles keep a beady eye on them as they warm their cold bodies on the rocks. Giraffes carefully try to balance on the slippery rocks trying to get down to the water to have a drink.








A herd of buffalos enjoying the sun and the water.


Saddlebills, hammerkops, herons and egyptian geese are all regularly seen from the camp. In the camp the indigenous aloes and trees are the playground for a variety of birds like sunbirds, bulbuls, trumpeter hornbills, starlings and many others. The cry of the fish eagle can be heard at intervals and breeding pairs of baterleurs and whiteback vultures can be seen in the trees along the banks of the Olifants River.



This brown hooded Kingfisher seen in a tree close to our Bungalow





Trumpeter Hornbill also seen in camp






The vegetation around Olifants varies between the grassland and mixed bushwillow woodlands in the south and to the north mopaniveld shrubs. You are now travelling deeper into elephant country.



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Letaba lies deep within the mopane dominated veld which is characteristic of the northern section of the Park. The Camp is set on the banks of the Letaba River. Letaba translates “River of Sand.”


The restaurant and a few prime cabins are set on the perimeter overlooking the river.


Relax on the deck at the restaurant and watch the animals go about their business.




You can enjoy this view while having a barbeque and listen to the hippos.




While enjoying a meal on the deck of the restaurant or walking along the perimeter fence you will be treated to close up sightings of elephants, buffalos, waterbuck and also the shy bushbuck can be seen moving around in the thickets.






The large old trees in camp offer shade from the heat of the day and a chance to spot some of the wonderful birdlife. A chance to see the bats take off at sunset and return at dawn, in their hundreds, is possible here since they have put up bat houses in the camp garden. Letaba is one of the oldest Camps in Kruger and has all the amenities.






The S93 along the Letaba River would be my choice of road to Letaba Camp. The scenery is stunning with the river on the one side and the Shamariri Koppies on the other.

Close to Letaba on the S62 the Engelhard Dam. The loops around the Dam are excellent for birding and the Matambeni Hide is a must for birders staying in Letaba. Of interest on the S62 is the “fish ladder” on the dam wall which allows for the spawning fish to travel upriver.


Game viewing is excellent in the Letaba area especially in winter when the water levels are low in the Park and water is available almost all year round in and around Letaba. With the large herds of buffalos and waterbuck around you are bound to find predators like hyenas and lions in the vicinity.


The spirits of the giants roam these grounds. The Museum of the Magnificent Seven; the largest tuskers that roamed Kruger are displayed in the museum. Spend the heat of the afternoon paying homage to these giants of the past. Will tell you more about that in the next episode.




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So glad you have resumed. It's going to help me get through the winter stuck here in UK. The elephants greeting each other is magical. Pen

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Glad to help you get through winter @@penolva :)


I find it fascinating how this huge and powerful elephant is also so gentle.

We were watching the elephants grazing when the one approached from the other side of the road. It seems they hadn't seen each other in a while and they both rushed forward to greet and we were lucky to witness this behaviour.

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Thanks for continuing @@Sharifa - my boys were getting impatient! Really looking forward to your report on the Museum of the Magnificent Seven, a place I hope to visit one day!

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Will try to step it up @@africapurohit :)

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The Hall of Fame houses the tusks of the seven most impressive bull elephants that had tusks which weighed over 50kg each. They all lived in Kruger between 1930’s - 1980’s. The then Chief Warden, Dr. U de V Pienaar decided to name these bulls and collectively called them the ‘Magnificent Seven.’


Dzombo (1935-1983)

Length of tusks: both 237cm

Weight: both at 56.8kg

Circumference at lip: Left, 50 and right, 51cm




Dzombo was named after the river found between Shingwedtzi and Shawu Valley and he lived around the Letaba, Tzendzi and Shingwedzi Rivers.

Dzombo means “to wait for something that is slow in coming.”

Dzombo was the only one of the “Magnificent Seven” to be killed by poachers. They were in the process of removing the tusks when they were disturbed by Ranger Ampie Espag and fled without their prize, thankfully.

Dzombo’s tusks were unique in that they were almost identical in size, weight, length and thickness.


Joao (date unknown)

Length of tusks: right 250 and left 271cm

Weight: right at 60 and left at 70kg

Circumference at lip: both at 51cm


Joao was named after the legendary priest- king of ancient Africa. He was first seen at the Joao windmill and was usually found south of the Shingwedzi River though he had been spotted as far south as Mahlangeni and Shilowa near Letaba.

Joao was a huge Bull with a shoulder height of 340cm.

In 1982 Joao was wounded by poachers but fortunately not seriously and the Rangers were able to immobilize him, clean his wound and take all his measurements. His tusks were an estimated combined weight of 130kg which would make him the one with the heaviest tusks. In 1984 he broke both his tusks at the lip, most probably in a fight with another bull. Sadly the tusks were never found and he is the only one of the “Magnificent Seven” not displayed in the Hall of Fame.


Kambaku (1930-1985)

Length of tusks: right 265 and left 259cm

Weight: right 64 and left 63.2kg

Circumference at lip: right 52 and left 51cm




Kambaku means ‘Great Tusker’ and this great tusker had a huge area in which he moved around. He was regularly seen from Satara/Orpen and Timbavati area right down to Crocodile Bridge. He was recognised by the perfectly round hole in his left ear and prominent markings on his trunk which had the appearance of smooth skin.

He had to be shot when he had an altercation with a sugar cane farmer and was wounded. The wound turned septic and when it was clear death was imminent he was put down.


Mafunyane (carcass discovered 16 November 1983)

Length of tusks: both at 251 cm

Weight: both at 55.1kg

Circumference at lip: both at 48cm




Mafunyane means ‘the irritable one’ so named because of his intolerance of humans. He was named after the former Warden of Kruger National Park Lou Steyn, who was well known for his quick temper as well.


His range reached the upper regions of the Shingwedzi River and southwards to the Bububu Stream.

His tusks were fairly straight and chiseled at the tips due to being scraped on the ground. Amazingly his tusks were identical in weight and length.

Mafunyane had a 10cm hole in the right side of his skull that extended into his nasal cavity allowing him to breathe through this passage. One of his toes on his left hind foot was splayed to one side so that he left a distinctive impression, distinguishable from other elephants. Though he had such long and heavy tusks he was fairly small built at 327cm at the shoulder whereas the others were around 340cm.


He was the most famous of the Big Tuskers and yet not many people have seen him. The reason could be that he usually kept away from the tourist roads.


The immobilization of Mafunyane on the 8 June 1983 to fit a radio collar and to make plaster cases of the bull’s ivory nearly spelled the end for this bull. When given the antidote to the immobilization drugs Mafunyane due to his immense tusk size was unable to ‘rock’ himself onto his chest which would have allowed him to stand up, and his repeated efforts caused him to dig his tusks further into the ground. Several strategies were tried to raise him but all failed. After he had been down for several hours and front end loader was brought into assist the team. Mafunyane was eventually ‘scooped’ to his feet and the bull rose and ran into the nearby Mopane bushes much to the relief of the capture team.


Mafunyane’s remains were found on 16 November 1983 near Tari River, Northwest of Shingwedzi. He had been dead for approximately 3-4weeks and appeared to have died of natural causes. He was about 57 years old when he died.


Ndlulamithi (1927-1985)

Length of tusks: right, 273cm and left 287cm

Weight of tusks: right at 57.2kg and left at 64.6kg

Circumference at lip: right at 48cm and left at 48.8cm




Ndlulamithi was the tallest of the “Magnificent Seven” at 347cmat the shoulder. His name translates “taller than the trees.”


His territory was the area from Mooiplaas to the western boundary, stretching across to the Shingwedzi River and to the Phongol River.

His tusks were significantly more twisted than the others.


He was only first sighted in 1980. He was very aggressive and secretive and very rarely seen. He achieved fame for charging Dr. Anthony Hall-Martin and his assistant when they tried to photograph him. They were on foot at the time and Ndlulamithi’s intentions were unmistakable.

Ranger Paul Zway found his remains near the Nkokodzi Spruit(stream). He died of natural causes in 1985.


Shawu (October 1982)

Length of tusks: right at 305cm and left at 317cm

Weight of tusks: right at 50.8kg and left at 52.5kg

Circumference at lip: both at 45cm




He was named after the valley in which roamed. He covered a large range from Letaba to Shingwedzi. He drifted along slowly around this large area sometimes taking six months to move from south to north. He was seen quite often on the main roads. He was very relaxed around tourists and showed no fear or distrust of cars and people.

Shawu was a tall bull at 340cm at the shoulder and had pincer-like tusks. In 1981 he was fitted with a collar successfully because of the constant threat of poaching from Mozambique.


Shawu died of old age in the area east of Shingwedzi, near the northern watershed of the Shawu Valley (Vlei) in October 1982. He had been ill for some time and his condition and movements were monitored daily towards the end of his life by means of a radio transmitter which had been fitted in a collar around his neck. He was close to 60 years old when he died.


Shingwedzi (1934-1981)

Length of tusks: right, 264 and left, 207cm

Weight of tusks: right at 58.1kg and left at 47.2kg

Circumference at lip: right, 48cm and left, 47.5cm




Shingwedzi was named after the river and camp where he spent his last few years. His name means “place of ironstone” referring to the gabbro rock outcrops common in the area.


His special feature was his uneven tusks. The left one was much shorter than the right one. A classic example of what the rangers refer to as master servant tusks. He had a large right servant tusk and a shorter left master tusk. The explanation is that he was left-handed, the same as with people with a preference of using their right or left hand.

Shingwedzi was found dead under a Sycamore Fig and short distance from Shingwedzi camp in January 1981, and as far as can be determine he died of natural causes.


The age of an Elephant can be fairly accurately determined from the state of wear of the teeth. In the case of Shingwedzi the last molar (molar 6) was well worn down, giving him an estimated age of 65 years.

Edited by Sharifa

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@@Sharifa what a fantastic summary of the Magnificent Seven! Thanks for the amazing details and photos from The Hall of Fame.

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Wonderful I look forward to seeing them myself next year. Where is it in Kruger? Pen

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