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MaMerle was one of two outstanding female elephant matriarchs in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. She was named after Merle, the wife of Dr Ian Whyte; a famous elephant researcher in the area at that time.
MaMerle was a beautiful docile animal who was unperturbed by the close proximity of tourist vehicles. The tusks of Kruger’s elephant cows do not usually compare with some of the remarkable cows’ ivory recorded elsewhere, but MaMerle’s were still large enough to warrant special notice in the park area. They were long and slender, and a little asymmetrical: the left tusk being slightly more curved and set higher than the right. In her heyday, she was probably the largest female “tusker” in Kruger.
MaMerle’s real claim to fame happened when she reared two consecutive sets of twins. Twinning is very rare for elephants and usually the mother is unable to supply sufficient milk for two babies. Therefore often when the calves get older, one calf exerts its dominance and the weaker one of the two usually dies from malnutrition. Remarkably, MaMerle successfully raised both sets of her twins – a wonderful achievement by a wonderful elephant!
The photo shows MaMerle on 14th August 2004 with her first set of twins which were about two years old at the time.
Photo copyright and text: Ian Whyte