It was with sadness that I heard the news last week that Duke, one of the oldest tuskers in Kruger Park, had passed away. It appears that he died from old age, his age estimated at about 55 years.
He was a gentle soul who was popular amongst visitors and had an avid worldwide following, and we are often asked “How is Duke doing, have you seen him recently?” by visitors to the park.
His remains were found near the S28, about 5km from Crocodile Bridge. He had been fitted with a radio collar in 2010 to track his whereabouts, and rangers got suspicious when his signal did not move for a few days.
Both Duke’s tusks had broken off in 2010, but were recovered, and will be united with the rest of his remains, and possibly prepared for display in the elephant museum at Letaba.
Emerging tuskers are usually named after previous rangers who have made notable contributions to conservation and the Kruger Park. Duke was named after the ranger, Thomas Duke who was based at Lower Sabie between 1903 and 1923. Duke’s home range was between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge Rest Camps but could also be seen roaming around Tshokwane and Metsi Metsi Trails Camp.
I have spent many a pleasurable hour in the company of this magnificent creature, sharing the experience with guests from all around the world.
Goodbye old friend – you will be missed!