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Hlaganini was named after the Hlanganini Spruit in South Africa (meaning “at the reeds”), where he was first seen. Characteristic tear in his left ear lobe gave the appearance of a ‘half’ ear. Hlanganini had substantial symmetrical ivory and there was a small growth of the left side of the bulls stomach towards the lower reaches of his abdomen, with several similar sized growths on his front left leg.
For long, Hlanganini was the largest known tusker in the Kruger National Park (KNP) that still had both of his tusks. Sadly a report was received on the 5 March 2009 from Jacques Saayman that Hlanganini has broken approximately 30cm off his left tusk. Field Rangers had been patrolling the area where it was first noted that he had broken his tusk and little hope was help that the piece would be located. Miraculously the broken piece was recovered by Mr Andrew Desmet who was conducting guide training in the area and who handed the piece in to local ranger. The piece was located at the mouth of the N’wanetsi Spruit, north west of Letaba.
News was received on 27 August 2009 via sms that the carcass of Hlanganini had been found. Upon closer investigation of the carcass it would appear that Hlanganini died in a brutal bull fight as there are several puncture wounds on his head area, many of which on the left side were forceful enough to fracture the skull and cause severe injury. Dr Ian Whyte estimated him from his teeth status to be approximately 52 years of age. This is a very sad loss for the KNP as the last big tusker is lost; the new generation has some time before it will reach the status of the old generation.
Text: South African National Parks
Photo copyright: Kirsty Redman