Death of a giant old elephant "Induna"

2011-07-25 00:00

THE second largest tusker in southern Africa has laid down his ivories and gone to the great park in the sky. Induna, one of three famous elephants at the Tembe Elephant Park near Kosi Bay, died on Saturday from old age.

His death has been mourned by park rangers and lodge workers, who knew him as a gentle giant, and he was followed by webcam fans from around the world

Induna was estimated to be over 55 years old. “This is quite a respectable age for an old elephant,” said elephant monitor Leonard Muller.

He explained when elephants reach a certain age their sixth set of molars wears out and they cannot chew properly or digest their food and as a result their general health begins to deteriorate.

Muller said, “We did notice he was battling to eat and he was getting slowly weaker. That is how nature takes its course. One of the rangers discovered his body on Saturday and we think he must have died during Friday night.”

The Tembe Elephant Park, on the old Ivory Route between Mozambique and Zululand, is one of the few places where the big tuskers are still found.

It is probably a combination of genetics and the surrounding environment that contributes to their mighty tusks.

There are five tuskers left at the park. The most famous is iSilo, who still holds the record for the heaviest and longest tusks in southern Africa.

A tusker is defined as an elephant that has tusks that weigh more than 45 kg each.

Muller estimates that Induna’s tusks must weigh over 55 kg each. He said the tusks would be removed from the carcass and would be saved.

Ernest Roberts, a lodge spokesperson, said that the elephant had been greatly loved by guests at the park because of his placid disposition, and because he was not “one to throw his weight around”.

On the Tembe facebook page many people have expressed their condolences to Isilo, the other big tusker who was Induna’s friend.

Muller said the two males used to walk around together until about two weeks ago and suddenly they parted ways.

He speculated, “It was possible that they were preparing for their last separation.”

Facebook user Tom Mahamba said, “People only mourn for their relatives and friends. I find it strange to mourn for the elephant, but I am. Induna was a big elephant with big tusks, rated to be the second biggest tusker in southern Africa. Sleep in peace Nduna, you made many people happy when you were still alive, we will miss you.”

Another webcam fan, Mike Rex, said, “I have been watching Induna at the watering hole and was hoping to see him when I could arrange my trip to Tembe.

“Moral of the story — don’t let life pass you by, get on and do the things you want to do! My respect goes out to this magnificent elephant.”

The Tembe Elephant Park is home to more than 80 elephants, which are routinely monitored, and the land and lodge are jointly managed by the Tembe tribe and a private consortium.

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