One of our most treasured sightings ever in the Kruger National Park. This magnificent animal was called “Masbambela”, named in honour of ranger Ben Pretorius who had spent 35 years working in the Park. Masbambela means “the one that can stand his ground” – isn’t that an absolutely apt name for this beautiful creature?

Masbambela was a shy tusker rarely seen by tourists to the Park and even Kruger’s researchers had difficulty tracking him, making our sighting on the 15th of January 2006 all the more special. We found him to the north of our beloved Shingwedzi Rest Camp, along the course of the Mphongolo River, where he was feeding peacefully only meters away from our vehicle.

Unfortunately, by August 2006 researchers noticed that he had broken a piece off his left tusk and sadly, Masbambela died, of natural causes, in November of that same year. His intact right tusk measured 2.31m in length and weighed 49kg, while the stump of his left tusk was 2.07m long and weighed almost 43kg.

We are honoured to have one of our images of Masbambela featured in Johan Marais’ book “Great Tuskers of Africa” – a must read for anyone interested in these awe-inspiring African icons.

Over the years we’ve encountered a number of other bulls carrying impressive ivory – if you are as much in awe with these beautiful animals as we are, have a look at the special posts we did on Kruger’s Big Tuskers and Isilo of Tembe.





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23 thoughts on “Masbambela

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  9. Robin

    I don’t think I’ve seen an elephant with such impressive tusks for many a year. I do remember my mother dragging us around the north of the Park years ago to try to catch sight of Mafunyane, Shingwedzi and Shawu… I don’t remember if we did.


    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Hi Robin! There’s a couple of big and up-and-coming bulls in the Kruger at the moment – I think that Masthulele is the biggest of the current tuskers, and he is often seen around Letaba. What I wouldn’t have given to have seen Mafunyane, shawu, Shingwedzi or one of the other “Magnificent Seven” in real life!


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