Ngani of Pongola joined two elephant family herds reintroduced into Pongola in 1997. About 40 years old bull became on of the biggest tuskers around the area – and featured on front cover of the Wildside magazine. Over the years in Pongola Ngani was immobilised three times for a radio collar change, but he has never shown any resentment to people due to man’s interventions. When it got near to the time to change collars he always went into ‘hiding’. Within 12 hours post collar change he would be back to his normal self, enjoying being admired by his followers. Ngani continued to enjoy his life in Pongola despite many changes: loosing his friends to hunting, train accidents and one escape from Pongola in 1999 and walking to and back from Mkuze Falls Reserve.
Ngani was not saved from damage himself – after a clash with another bull Impi, 1/3 of his tusk broke off in 2009. After consultation with wildlife veterinarians, it was feared that the split end will affect the nerve and could develop into complications such as infection and root abscess; leading to behaviour changes including aggression. The split tusk was most likely to also break off. Ngani’s owner decided to sell him to be hunted, but on the day of the hunt his tusk broke off completely at the lip, making the hunter and the owner change their decision. Ngani’s broken tusk has posed no further problems and the need for him to be destroyed was no longer necessary. His tusk was never found – it is suspected it fell off while wallowing in the mud pools along lake Jozini.
Most recently Ngani became famous for being a father of Dingane and Shaka, rare elephant twins. Twins only occur in 0.5% elephant births worldwide, and this was the first set to be born in South Africa since 2006. In 2010, Ngani died being shot as he escaped into Swatiland…
Photo and text credit: Space for Elephants