Xilowa, pronounced and commonly spelt Shilowa, was a big tusker named by Dr Ian Whyte after the Shilowa koppie situated near the Mozambique boarder, where it was known that ‘a strange man’ used to live at (Shilowa is the Tsonga word for “the bewitched one”). Shilowa was recognised by quite a difference in tusks: straight long right tusk and a much sorter left master tusk. He was regularly seen between 1992 and 1998, roaming between Mooiplaas and southwards towards the Letaba Restcamp.
His carcass was found by game guards near the Nshawu No. 1 windmill east of Mopani on the 14 April 1998. Johann Oelofse Ranger at Mooiplaas Section at the time did the investigation and estimated that Shilowa had been dead for approximately 5 days and it appeared that he died from natural causes. According to Johann his feet had healed well from the ‘sole problems’ that had plagued him over the 2 years before his death with scars only being visible on one hind foot.
Shilowa’s right tusk had a crack up the length, while the underside had deep reservoir scars unique to Kruger Elephants.
Text: South African National Parks
Photo copyright: Keith Begg