It was a daunting task for the panel of judges to finally name this year's winner out of the over 180 entries in the Emerging Tuskers competition. But the judges, comprising Dr Ian Whyte, large mammal scientist who retired from SANParks in 2007, Johan Marais, author of Tuskers of Southern Africa, Louis Olivier, Nxanatseni south regional ranger, and Piet Andjelkovic, chairman of the Bushveld Region Honorary Rangers, faced up to the challenge and decided on Barry Swart as the overall winner.
Though the number of entries was on a par with last year, the judges were clearly impressed with the quality of this year's entries. Ascribing this to higher awareness through increased publicity, the "judges were suitably impressed with the efforts that many of the entrants made and of the overall quality of the entries. Several of the entries contributed new locations of many of the known bulls, as well as new ear notches or holes, which will aid future identifications of these bulls," says Kirsty Redman, interpretive officer, Nxanatseni region and coordinator of the competition.
There were also less 'rejected' entries, on the basis of the elephants not being emerging tuskers, than in 2006. "But the most exciting feature was the identification of the five new tuskers which took 'top honours' in the judging process."Given that two of the five new tuskers had been previously seen, though not named, the other three vied for the top position.
Barry Swart, for his contribution on the newly named tusker, Nwashinangana, was awarded first place. Barry receives a research/game capture trip and two night's accommodation in the restcamp closest to the research for two people. This tusker was recorded mainly between Lower Sabie and Tshokwane, but several entries had him as far afield as Orpen Gate. Several entrants recorded this tusker, but it was found that Barry captured all the criteria that were looked for and provided a valuable data base of the tusks as well as ear markings and notches.
Nwashinangana is named after Ted Whitfield, a former section ranger in Kruger. Nwashinangana means somebody that blows the animal horn. The name was given to Ted due to his habit of whistling softly while he was working. Ted started his career in the KNP as ranger at Klipkoppies, now named Mooiplaas, section in 1970 and was stationed at seven of the 22 ranger section throughout the duration of his career. He retired on November 1, 1994 and is currently living in Graskop. Ted's legacy continues in Kruger through one of his three children, his son Steven Whitfield who is currently a section ranger at the Tshokwane section. Steven is married to Lorna, daughter of recently retired large mammal scientist and the father of the emerging tuskers project, Dr Ian Whyte (Mastulele).
AJ de Wet scooped second spot for his contribution of the newly named tusker, Ngunyupezi, named in memory of field ranger sergeant James Maluleke. Ngunyupezi can be translated as "one who likes to dance with woman but who will always go home at the end of the night".
Sergeant Maluleke started as a field ranger at Mahlangeni and served at many sections within Kruger. He retired in 1982 where he was then stationed at Shingwedzi. He was however brought back into service as a security guard at Punda Maria Gate, where he permanently retired in 1995. He is honoured for his dedicated and esteemed career in the Kruger National Park. Sadly sergeant Maluleke passed away in 1996, but his legacy is continued through his son who is currently a field ranger sergeant in the Stolznek section. This was the only entry of this tusker, who can be located in the Red Rocks area between Bateleur and Shingwedzi.
Third place went to Matthew Durell, for his contribution of the newly named tusker, Madolo, named in tribute to Johan Kloppers. Johan Kloppers, known as Madolo, meaning 'knees', due to his penchant for walking and his unique stride, was a long serving member of SANParks. He started his career in 1953. His abilities saw him in the capacity of section ranger, later promoted to district ranger and ending his career with SANParks as the head manager for nature conservation, retiring in July 1991. Apart from a long illustrious career Johan will be remembered for two publications, "Butterflies of the Kruger National Park" and "A Dictionary of Kruger Park Place Names." The tusker can be found in the vicinity of the Kruger Gate. Matthew entered a very wide-ranging series of pictures that provided a comprehensive data base of this bull. Particular reference is noted in the ear markings and tusk angles.
Given the extremely high quality of the entries, the judges decided that there were several exceptional entries that needed to be acknowledged as fourth and fifth prize winners.
Bev Clark took fourth place for her contribution of a newly named tusker, Machachule, discovered initially by Dr Ian Whyte in the Shingwedzi area. She shares the spot with Sarel Grobler for his contribution of Machachule and Alan Caithness for his contribution of the newly named tusker Ma Xangane discovered originally by Johan Marais and Kirsty Redman (SANParks) in the Letaba restcamp area.
Machachule, "the lead dancer" has been named in memory of corporal Joe Managanyi. Corporal Joe Manganyi was given this name by his staff as he was known as a very strict worker who did not waste time and who had to do things immediately, leading by example. He was a long serving member of the SANParks family. Joe retired as a field ranger corporal after 33 years service in 2002 in the Mahlangeni section of Kruger. He sadly passed away on November 14, 2005.
Ma Xangane, or "one who speaks Shangaan" has been named in tribute to Mike English who was known amongst his colleagues for his fluency in the Shangaan language. Mike English had a notable career in the KNP, starting in 1963 as a section ranger at Shangoni. He continued his career with highlights including the starting of the wilderness trails in 1978 and the documentation of many of the Bushman Rock Art sites in the KNP. At retirement in 1992, Mike was the regional ranger for the central region. He continued his efforts in conservation after this and remained in Kruger as the caretaker for THEBA in Pafuri, until 1996.
Mike's legacy continues through his eldest son, Don, who has been a SANParks employee for 21 years and is currently the section ranger at Malelane. Don is married to Sharon, the daughter of retired ranger Ted Whitfield.
Joint fifth place winners are Joan Trass (tusker Milulane), Penny Legg (tusker Tsotsi), Johnathan Heger (for his contribution of a new tusker yet to be named but which will be monitored to determine if he has the potential to continue to develop, and also of Ma Trix a known female tusker in the Tshokwane area), CA Ralph (tusker Hlanganini), Jacques Steenberg (Duke, after the breaking of his tusk) and Jenny Blocks (tusker Tsotsi).
Other entries commended by the panel were submitted by Stuart Basil (tusker Alexander), D Outram (now deceased tusker Massunguine), Abri van Vollenhoven (tusker Massunguine) and Ala and Peter Burmeister (tusker Hlanganini).
By Kirsty Redman
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