In true African spirit, we honour the Magnificent Seven elephant bulls in the Kruger Park and other iconic elephants by naming our streets after them.
The main road was named Oupoot, after the elephant bull featured in Dalene Matthee’s Kringe in die Bos.
The Magnificent Seven
More than thirty years ago seven impressive elephant bulls, all with tusks weighing more than 50 kg each, were found in the Kruger National Park. The Chief Warden at the time, Dr U de V Pienaar, named these bulls, the Magnificent Seven, based on the 1960 Hollywood film.
- Dzombo Street, as well as the elephant, was named for the Dzombo stream which traversed the Mopani Flats between the Shawu and Shingwedzi Rivers. Here, Dzombo (1935-1983) frequented the grassy vlei of the Shawu valley. Of the Magnificent Seven, only Dzombo was killed by poachers at the age of fifty. They left behind his tusks when they were disturbed by a ranger.
- João Street was named after an elephant who frequented an area south of the Shingwedzi River. João, in turn, was named after Prester John, a legendary priest-king from ancient Africa. João is Portuguese for John. A very large bull, João was wounded by poachers in 1982 but managed to survive the wounds. João was the biggest ivory carrier of the Magnificent Seven, until, in 1984, both his tusks were broken - possibly in battle with another bull - close to his lip line.
- Kambaku Street was named for an elephant that traversed vast tracts of land. A very recognisable bull, Kambaku (1935-1983) had a perfectly round hole in his left ear, and he lost his tail hairs with age. The prominent markings on his trunk also made him recognisable. He was shot when he crossed into sugarcane fields, and the would left him in obvious pain. To end his suffering, Regional Ranger Lynn van Rooyen shot him.
- Mafunyane Street is named after an irritable elephant bull who loved to eat and roamed the Shangoni region of the Kruger Park. The most famous of the Magnificent Seven, Mafunyane had fairly straight tusks with worn tips. However, he steered clear of the roads. In 1983, the bull was immobilized to make plaster cases of his ivory and to fit a radio collar. There were complications when he was given the antidote, as his big tusks got in the way of him standing up. Eventually, a front loader had to be used to scoop him up. In November 1983, his remains were found near Tari River, where he died of natural causes.
- Ndlulamithi Street was named after an elephant who carried the same name, meaning “taller than the trees” in Tsonga. He had handsomely curved tusks, and stood approximately 345 cm high at the shoulder. Although he was an aggressive elephant, he was seldom seen. His remains were found near the Nkokodzi Spruit in 1985, where he died of natural causes.
- Shawu Street was named after an elephant which frequented the Shawu valley in his travels across the plans between Shingwedzi and Letaba and from the Lebombo Hills to the main road. Shawu had the longest tusks on record in the KNP and one of the sixth longest in Africa. He was quite approachable and not shy or distrustful of vehicles. When he became sick and to monitor him due to the poaching threat, he was fitted with a collar in 1981. He finally died of old age in October 1982 at nearly sixty years of age.
- Shingwedzi Street was named after an elephant who spent his last few years in the Shingwedzi rest camp. He had one large and one smaller tusk. In 1981, Shingwedzi was found dead from natural causes under a Sycamore Fig near the Shingwedzi camp.
You can find more information and photos of these amazing elephants here.