On Monday morning, April 30, 2007, field rangers Difference Mabunda and Olsado Mulhovu, set out to patrol an area south of Tshokwane close to Kruger Koppies. They took the well-known game trail Ndlelandlopfu, meaning elephant path, when they came across a carcass of a big elephant bull with exceptionally big tusks.
Some time ago, they had the opportunity to see Duke, probably the biggest of the new generation tuskers in the Kruger National Park (KNP), and although they do not know the elephant well, their initial thoughts were that it could have been Duke. When section ranger, Steven Whitfield arrived on the scene, he immediately saw it was not Duke, but that he also could not identify the elephant.
"The carcass was about three to four days old and already in s state of decay. There were no visible wounds," says Steven. Only one molar was visible and although the tooth showed significant signs of wear Steven felt that being summer and an abundance of green grass being available that it was unlikely that the elephant had died of starvation due to worn teeth, but that it was more likely that the Elephant had died of injuries sustained during a fight.
Steven took a several photos, which he forwarded to Ian Whyte, Kruger's elephant researcher. The park has identified 50 emerging tuskers as part of a project to identify a new group of elephants with large tusks in Kruger.
Visitors have also been encouraged, as part of a competition and otherwise, to submit photos, DVDs and video material of big tuskers to the park, to enhance the existing database on the emerging tuskers in Kruger. Ian identified the carcass as that of Mambrrr. The elephant was named after Philemon Chauke, a scientific services research assistant, who was killed in a car accident in 1984.
Mambrrr was identified as one of the emerging tuskers of Kruger. He was originally photographed at Leeupan by Dave Jeffery on October 6, 2004 and also by Louise Rademan and Tony Swemmer on September 19, 2005 along the Salitje road near the Nwatindlopfu drift.
He has been given the name "Mambrrr" in memory of Philemon Chauke who was a research assistant for many years in the Kruger National Park (KNP) based in Skukuza. Chauke (or Mambrrr as he was affectionately known) was involved in most of the scientific projects involving field work, and was well known by many Kruger-based and visiting scientists.
He was a great character, much loved by those who knew him. He was killed in a car accident in 1984 while assisting Ian Whyte with the field work for his masters degree. Ian says, "He was a self appointed guardian of my children when they joined me in the field on school holidays and weekends."
The origin of his name is obscure, but it is believed to come from a locally brewed South African beverage made from peaches known as "mampoer". The name should be pronounced with a prominent roll of the rrrs so as to resemble an elephant greeting rumble.
By Ian Whyte