The majestic bull elephant, heavy ivory tasks flashing in the early dawn light of the bush, has become an iconic symbol of South Africa and her wildlife. In fact, the elephant is revered through a host of cultures as a symbol of strength and power, a loyal, smart spirit fiercely protective of its own. Even the South African coat of arms features elephant tusks to represent wisdom, strength, moderation and eternity. These spectacular creatures are no strangers to safari lodges in the Greater Kruger Park area, but did you know that Kambaku Lodges have an extra-special connection to these majestic beings?
Kambaku Lodges in the Timbavati still honour the legacy of the ‘Magnificent Seven’. These seven bull elephants all had massive tusks, each weighing more than 50kg, earning them their affectionate nickname. They became the poster-children for the conservation efforts in the Kruger during the 80s, with a series of special portraits commissioned from celebrated wildlife artist Paul Bosman. These were accompanied by illustrated articles from the Park’s Senior Research Officer.
The public adored them, but their time in the public eye was short. Although most of these magnificent beasts lived well into their fifties, their time in the public spotlight was only around 5 years. They were so beloved, however, that as each of these mighty elephants passed, efforts were made to recover their tusks and skulls for preservation. Their legacy lives on until today, with the Elephant Hall Museum at Letaba Rest Camp holding the tusks of Dzombo, Kambaku, João, Mafunyane, Ndlulamithi, Shawu and Shingwedzi. Prints of Paul Bosman’s iconic portraits can also still be purchased, too. But have you spotted our personal legacy with these great beasts?
While most of the Magnificent 7 were lucky enough to pass from natural causes, 2 were the sad victims of the poaching activity that even then the Kruger Park Conservancy worked so hard to eradicate. Kambaku, one of the proudest of these massive bulls, was a solitary elephant by nature, roaming massive distances across the park as a matter of course. He was spotted as far out as Crocodile Bridge! With unique markings and those impressive ivories, his spirit, determination and adventurous spirit, coupled with his love of peaceful solitude, made him the perfect inspiration behind the naming of Kambaku Lodges
The Magnificent Seven were the biggest of their era, and some of the biggest we’ve ever seen. People still remain fascinated today with these glorious animals, the embodiment of strength, grace, intelligence and loyalty. The legend of Kambaku lingers on through the naming of our lodges and a new generation of ‘big tuskers’ flourish!- Kambaku’s stellar spirit lives on every day at both lodges – It’s both an honour and a privilege to carry forward the legacy of this magnificent beast and his brethren for new generations.