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"Big Tuskers"

Perth, Australia
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296 posts
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"Big Tuskers"

A lot of the reading I am doing on Tanzania is of "oldish" books, they all talk of the demise of the "big Tusker". The elephants most commonly hunted/poached were the ones with the biggest tusks therfore only those with smaller tusks were left to breed. Is this still so? Are there particular parks/ares where we might see huge tusks on elephants? Im hoping so.

Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: "Big Tuskers"

I thought a 'Big Tusker' was a litre glass of Beer. (Only kidding!)

The real venerable old gents are still visible. Particularly in Ngorongoro Crater where they are simply enormous.

There is some evidence that the breeding from smaller males had led to less big Tuskers but happily nature is not to be trifled with and, with the end of Trophy hunting in civilised countries, the 'natural selection' process of the biggest Bulls winning fair lady has been repeated and there is a new generation of tuskers around.

Findlay, Ohio
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for Tanzania, Ngorongoro Conservation Area
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2. Re: "Big Tuskers"

I was just reading in "The Citizen" today that poaching is getting to be a big problem again in Tarangire. If I remember correctly it said that in recent years there were 38 elephants lost to poaching in Tarangire.

Fairbanks
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3. Re: "Big Tuskers"

Large numbers of elephants and rhinos were killed in East Africa during land clearing operations in the early 1900s. However, the real declines in elephants and rhinos came later in the 1970s and 80s with widespread poaching for horns and ivory. At its peak, poaching indiscriminantly took elephants with tusks of all sizes, large and small, male and female. Very few older males survived outside of a few protected areas. There were always a few elephants that never grew tusks. Some people suggested that tuskless elephants became relatively more common as the others were killed off.

In much of East Africa poaching was controlled and greatly reduced in the 1990s. Some elephant populations recovered and in a few areas like Tarangire elephants began to increase rapidly through natural reproduction as well as influx from surrounding areas where changes in land use were altering habitats and driving elephants away.

Elephants have indeterminant growth--they continue to get larger as long as they live. The elephants with the largest tusks tend to be the oldest males, usually over 50 years of age. Ngorongoro Crater was relatively well-protected during the poaching craze, so it still has old-age males. Interestingly, at least through 2009 there was also a large tuskless male in the Larai Forest in the Crater. Ngorongoro is definitely the place to go in Tanzania to see big tuskers.

In Tarangire and Manyara there are many more elephants, but they tend to be females and younger bulls with smaller tusks. It will take a few more decades to produce lots of big males there, providing the recent resurgence in poaching doesn't turn the trend around.

Rhinos have fared far worse than elephants. They were all but wiped out in Tanzania, surviving only in Ngorongoro Crater. A few rhinos from Ngorongoro have recently colonized the Moru Kopjes of Serengeti anf a few black rhinos from South Africa have been placed in a fenced reserve at Mkomazi Park and recently in the Western Corridor of Serengeti. Ngorongoro remains the one place in Tanzania where there is good chance to see rhinos.

Isle of Man, United...
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4. Re: "Big Tuskers"

A certain Park near to my heart was almost poached out in the 1970s. When control was re-established there were no Ellies over the age of 15. 30 years on and some Bulls have magnificent Ivory. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Off topic but there are regular Rhino sightings in TZ other than in Ngorongoro and Serengeti now.

5. Re: "Big Tuskers"

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Removed on: 21 February 2012, 11:32
Minneapolis...
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6. Re: "Big Tuskers"

weren't the rhinos near Moru Kopjes immediately targeted by poachers?

and I've got photos of a rhino in the northern Serengeti - perhaps 100 miles north of Moru Kopjes...

Fairbanks
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7. Re: "Big Tuskers"

Idiots. Up-to-date info is not easy to find. Both IUCN and WWF list the rhino population in all of Tanzania at 123 in 2008 or 2009. There used to be many thousands. Most of the remaining rhinos are in Ngorongoro Crater, Moru Kopjes in the Serengeti, or Ruaha/Selous in southern Tanzania. The latest estimate I could find for Moru Kopjes is 27, about the same as in Ngorongoro, but they're harder to find.

You must have photographed one of the 5 rhinos from South Africa that were released in northern Serengeti in 2010. These rhinos are descended from animals that had been moved from Tanzania to South Africa for protection during the height of poaching. At least one has been poached. I haven't heard of any poaching in the Moru area.

I neglected to mention the Ruaha/Selous rhinos in my earlier post. Maybe Mfuwe knows of others that don't show up in any of the reports I've seen.

Not every big tusker elephant was wiped out by poachers (as Africa-Odessy points out) and there are a few rhinos outside the Crater. You might see one elsehwere. You might also win the lottery. The bottom line is that the only (nearly) certain place in Tanzania to see rhinos is Ngorongoro Crater. That's true for big tusker elephants, too.

Mfuwe--are you refering to Manyara for elephants with impressive ivory? I agree with you that Manyara is a fantastic and underappreciated park. I alway schedule 3 nights there in one of the special campsites deep within the park. 30-yr-old bulls can have impressive tusks, but they'll look even more impressive if they live past 50. Let's hope they do. I have also seen a fairly large bull elephant in Tarangire, but by the biggest bulls I've seen were in the Crater.

Fairbanks
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40 posts
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8. Re: "Big Tuskers"

Idiots. Up-to-date info is not easy to find. Both IUCN and WWF list the rhino population in all of Tanzania at 123 in 2008 or 2009. There used to be many thousands. Most of the remaining rhinos are in Ngorongoro Crater, Moru Kopjes in the Serengeti, or Ruaha/Selous in southern Tanzania. The latest estimate I could find for Moru Kopjes is 27, about the same as in Ngorongoro, but they're harder to find.

You must have photographed one of the 5 rhinos from South Africa that were released in northern Serengeti in 2010. These rhinos are descended from animals that had been moved from Tanzania to South Africa for protection during the height of poaching. At least one has been poached. I haven't heard of any poaching in the Moru area.

I neglected to mention the Ruaha/Selous rhinos in my earlier post. Maybe Mfuwe knows of others that don't show up in any of the reports I've seen.

Not every big tusker elephant was wiped out by poachers (as Africa-Odessy points out) and there are a few rhinos outside the Crater. You might see one elsehwere. You might also win the lottery. The bottom line is that the only (nearly) certain place in Tanzania to see rhinos is Ngorongoro Crater. That's true for big tusker elephants, too.

Mfuwe--are you refering to Manyara for elephants with impressive ivory? I agree with you that Manyara is a fantastic and underappreciated park. I alway schedule 3 nights there in one of the special campsites deep within the park. 30-yr-old bulls can have impressive tusks, but they'll look even more impressive if they live past 50. Let's hope they do. I have also seen a fairly large bull elephant in Tarangire, but by the biggest bulls I've seen were in the Crater.

Ottawa, Canada
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9. Re: "Big Tuskers"

WB from Fairbanks, I'm expecting mfuwe not to tell. Loose lips bring poachers. (guns on hips? - not good at rhyming couplets) but you'll understand the old WWII reference.

Edited: 08 February 2012, 00:08
Fairbanks
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10. Re: "Big Tuskers"

QM. Do you honestly think anyone involved in poaching in Tanzania would look to this forum for information?