Art of Last of the Big Tuskers

by

Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Title (Isilo)

The (original) magnificent seven – all super-tuskers, roamed Kruger National Park in South Africa in the seventies and eighties. Each had ivory in excess of one-hundred pounds per side. Sadly, you would be hard-pressed to find a single hundred-pounder alive in Kruger today. To feature another magnificent seven in the film: Last of the Big Tuskers, the film crew returned to Kruger, then traveled to Kenya to compare the elephants of Amboseli National Park, Chyulu Hills National Park and Tsavo National Park to the last of the super-tuskers of Tembe.

Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (Isilo)

Isilo, Tembe Elephant Park.

Tusk Size: over 9 ft, 150 lbs. [1]

The flow of the paths, the grass, the trees, the pond, all leads to Isilo. The point of emphasis is on the tusks, and the color takes liberty within the compressed highlights and shadows that appear in the reference image as a subtle yellow or purple artifact on the red-ish elephant skin and that have been drawn upon to emphasize the royal crown of the ‘king-of-kings’. Tembe Elephant Park, South Africa, has a unique topography: a special sandforest that shares a border with Mozambique and that has an elephant population with very special characteristics — “a special genetic makeup to produce strong tuskers.” — Alois Haberhauer, Elephant Geneticist: University of Kriel

“From a genetics standpoint [the elephants in Tembe] are quite gifted, [though this has a lot to do] with the history of the area, that this must have been a very difficult area to hunt in the peak of the ivory trade, so that would have left a lot of these bulls alone[.] [The elephants in Tembe] were not hunted back then for their ivory. [The result is that there are] a lot more tuskers [per population size in Tembe] than anywhere in South Africa. Even [compared] to a place like Tsavo [National Park], which is a massive park with lots of elephants, they only have a handful of tuskers [per population size.] That is something quite special for Tembe.” — Leonard Muller, Elephant Monitor: Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife


Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (Kamboyo)

Kamboyo, Tsavo Conservation Area.

Tusk Size: 118 and 116 lbs. [2]


Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (Masthulele)

Masthulele, Kruger National Park.

Tusk Size: 8 and 7.67 ft, 119 and 112 lbs. [3]


Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (One Ton)

One Ton, Chyulu Hills National Park.

Tusk Size: 8 and 6 ft, 115 and 90 lbs. [1]


Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (Satao)

Satao, Tsavo East National Park.

Tusk Size: over 7 ft, 100 lbs. [1]


Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (Tim)

Tim, Amboseli National Park.

Tusk Size: 9 and 7 ft, 135 and 125 lbs. [1]


Last of the Big Tuskers Elephant Graphic (Craig)

Craig, Amboseli National Park.

Tusk Size: 8 and 7 ft, 110 and 100 lbs. [1]

These digital paintings reference images of the seven elephants featured in Last of the Big Tuskers, a documentary film by James Currie. Limited edition archival pigment prints, numbered and signed by Dane Aleksander, can be purchased online at animathabitat.org/boutique/ with a percentage of the purchase price directed to support Big Life Foundation, Tembe Tusker Foundation and Tsavo Trust.

Last of the Big Tuskers (documentary film, 2018) is available on Vimeo on Demand.

[1] Estimated measurements, per tusk.

[2] Tsavo Trust measurements, per tusk.

[3] Tuskers of Africa measurements, per tusk.

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