Africa Geographic has put together a photo series celebrating the identification of 12 large-tusked elephants from the Kruger National Park.
The project, which was formalised in 2003, allowed for the recording of data that allows park officials to track the developments of tusks as well as the distribution patterns of the animals. The project is said to be a working example of citizen science in wildlife conservation, in which photographs and sightings from park guests are entered into the project database- and ultimately used to identify and name the animals.
For the safety of the animals, photographers are encouraged to not make public the specific locations of the animals.
The last time an effort was made to name the animals was in the 1980s by Dr Uys de Viliers Pienaar, who named the park's most impressive elephants the 'magnificent seven'. According to African Geographic the elephants were respected, not just in South Africa, but throughout the world and their story did so much to bring the African elephants’ plight, during a dark time, to the attention of the world. Sadly, they have all long since passed onto greener pastures, but thankfully the Kruger Park has been blessed with an ongoing legacy of large tuskers.
Due to the rarity of big tusker genes, and the very low proportion of old elephants in existing elephant populations, big tuskers themselves are very rare. The current elephant population of Kruger (2015) was estimated at around 17,000. In this population, only 22 were classified as tuskers. Kruger remains one of the few places in Africa to see these unique and magnificent animals.
See the full gallery here.