Iconic Female Tuskers
The old maxim, “Behind every great man is a great woman” is also true for elephants. When we think of the majestic Tusker elephants in Africa we think of the big boys with giant tusks over 100 pounds. But where did those stunning genes come from? Iconic female tuskers, or Iconic Cows, likely have just as much to do with spreading the Big Tusker genes as the boys. These matriarchs represent years of breeding, ushering in the next generation of Big Tuskers. Protecting Iconic Cows honors their legacy and contributions to the herds while also protecting the sisters, daughters, aunts, and granddaughters who are all likely carriers of the big tusker genes.
The IEF-supported Big Tusker Project provides aerial surveillance and protection for the big boys as well as these Iconic Cows in Tsavo, Kenya. Working with local wildlife authorities, they serve as the eye-in-the-sky to catch poachers, recover the bodies of fallen tuskers, monitor herd movements, and deter future wildlife crime. If the #FutureIsFemale then we need to protect these gorgeous ladies, hence IEF’s Sponsor-An-Elephant program for these Iconic Female Tuskers. Together the Iconic Cows and Big Tuskers represent African elephants before the widespread poaching of the 1970s and ‘80s (and again in the late 1990s and 2000s), and what could be possible again if we are victorious against poaching. Protecting these iconic creatures is a valuable step because, after all, “girls just wanna have tusks” .
Estimated Age: 35 to 40 years old
Herd: Matriarch of the cow-calf group.
Special Features: Relatively long symmetrical ivory splayed outwards towards the end. Matriarch to a herd of 9 elephants. Small in body size. Possibly the mother of twins.
Temperament: Approached on ground once to date. Calm within 30m of the vehicle.
Name Origin: Named after the area she was first located. Aruba is the name of a location in Tsavo East meaning ‘Elephant’ in Waatha language.
Herd: Matriarch of a herd formerly of 15 elephants, now 7 members. Has a sub-adult calf.
Special Features: Has clean ears with no notches or tears. Has a full patch of tail hair on the inner side of the tip of her tail and only a few hairs left on the outer side.
Temperament: Very protective of her cow-calf group. Dislikes being approached.
Name Origin: Named after the Dida Harea region of Tsavo East where she was first seen.
Herd: Currently has a 1.5-year-old calf, and is matriarch to a herd of 8 elephants.
Special Features: Very thin, long ivory growing straight downwards.
Temperament: Calm and approachable
Name Origin: Named after where she was first seen, the Kanderi region of Tsavo along the seasonal Voi River.
Status: Deceased. Mudanda sadly succumbed to the recent drought and was found dead on October 12, 2017. Both tusks were recovered.
Herd: Had a 4-year-old calf, and is usually matriarch of a herd of 9 elephants.
Special Features: Right tusk curves inward and above the left tusk. Has a u-shaped notch on the left upper ear.
Temperament: Was very calm and approachable.
Name Origin: Named after the famous dome-shaped rock called Mudanda Rock in Tsavo East.
Herd: Matriarch to a herd of 11 elephants
Special Features: Long and full left tusk but the right tusk is broken off approximately halfway down.
Temperament: Moves far, and never stays in the same location long.
Name Origin: Named after a large red rock on the south bank of the Galana River that is Tsavo elephant colour.
Status: Deceased. Died of old age after a prolonged and severe drought in August 2017.
Herd: Was the Matriarch of her herd, which also included Mudanda.
Special features: Very long, symmetrical ivory, not much tail hair
Temperament: Known as a gentle lady of Tsavo. Very calm and approachable both by vehicle and by foot.
Name Origin: Named after a town close to Tsavo East, which used to be a “garrison town” during WWI.
Herd: Currently has a 2-year-old calf, and matriarch to herd of 7 elephants.
Special Features: Left tusk crosses underneath the right tusk forming a distinctive X shape. Right ear has two notches.
Temperament: Very protective and likely to charge when approached closer than 25 meters.
Name Origin: Received her name due to the shape of her tusks, which cross at the lower ends.
- Long complete left tusk.
- Right tusk broken off and remains just a stump at the lip.
- Matriarch to herd of 14 elephant
- Only a few hairs remain on her tail suggesting she is old.
- Small hole midway of left ear near margin.
- Two notches on the right ear.
Home range: Sighted mostly around Emusaya. But we are still learning her range area.
- Not approached on ground to date. All sightings made from the air.
- Wanders in large areas some of which are historic poaching hot spots.