The Story of an
Elephant Bull known as
“We suspect that he ended up in a territorial altercation with another bull. If you look closely at his skull remains you can get an idea of just how severe his injury was, by the damage that is visible on his skeletal structure…”
Elephants frequently migrate from within the Etosha National Park to adjacent properties. Onguma is no exception, as our entire western boundary borders on Etosha. This migration usually involves sub-adult bulls or older bachelor bulls that have been pushed out of their prospective herds and sometimes they simply ‘love the Onguma life’ so much, that they decide to stay. Scarface was an adult bachelor when he first arrived on the Reserve in 2013.
For years, Scarface would venture back to Etosha during the rainy seasons and return to Onguma at the start of the winter months. A lone bull on a mission, he soon made a name for himself amongst our staff. His facial laceration made it very easy to identify him, which is how, between the Onguma guides, our Anti-Poaching Units, as well as the numerous camera traps set up in the Reserve, we were able to catch a glimpse into his migratory habits.
As you may have guessed, his name was coined due to an old battle scar on the left side of his forehead. Other than poachers and human-wildlife conflict incidents, wild Elephants don’t have many threats except mature, more dominant bulls. We suspect that he ended up in an altercation with another bull. If you look closely at his skull remains you can get an idea of just how severe his injury was, by the damage that is visible on his skeletal structure.
At the time of his death, we estimated Scarface to be middle-aged, not more than 40-50 years old.
Sometime in late 2020, our Reserve Manager Yona, was alerted by an unusual amount of vulture activity surrounding two of our most northern waterholes. Vultures are a great indicator for any loss of life in the bush. Naturally, our Anti-poaching teams were on high alert. The vultures could be seen from both waterholes, which were approximately 5km apart, indicating a big carcass…
Our APU ground teams were deployed and a few hours later the report came in of deceased Elephant bull.
Elephants are an Endangered Species and by law, should one come across a carcass, it must be reported to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry & Tourism. We were instructed to remove the tusks and to deliver the ivory to a secure safe at the Ministry Headquarters within the Etosha National Park.
As nature took its course and the vultures and other scavengers consumed his remains, a few weeks later we went back to collect his skull.
The cause of his death is unknown to this day… But the legend of Scarface lives on…