The magnificent 7 was the name given to a group of African Elephant bulls that each sported tusks weighing more than 50 kg. All the elephants in the Magnificent 7 lived in the Kruger National Park at the same time and lived in different areas, wide spread throughout the park The Magnificent 7 at the time stood as a prime example and proud memory of how effective the conservation effort was, providing 7 of the largest elephant bulls in the world.
The Chief warden at the time of the elephant’s reign, Dr. U de V Pienaar, decided to publicize the Elephants. He was the one who gave each elephant their name and decided to give them the collective name of Magnificent 7, based off of the name of the 1960 western movie.
These Elephants were so popular and gained such a reputation that a promotion was launched in 1980 for paintings to be commissioned to each of the 7 elephants by celebrated artist Paul Bosman, and illustrated articles from the Senior Research officer, Dr. Anthony Hall-Martin.
Here is some info about the Magnificent 7:
Dzombo got its name from the Dzomb stream that flows from the Mopani Flats between the Shingwedzi and Shawu Valleys. Dzombo lived in an area that was bounded by the Shingwedzi, Letaba and Tsendze Rivers and was frequently seen near the grassy vlei of the Shawu Valley.
Joao received its named after the legendary priest king of ancient Africa, Prester John. Joao is the Portuguese name for ‘John’. Joao lived in the Shingwedzi region. He frequented the area around the Shingwedzi River but has moved as far south as Mahlangene.
Kambaku gets his name from Tshonga, meaning Great Tusker or Old Elephant Bull. Kambaku was not like some of the other Tuskers as he did not stay in one general area. Kambaku moved around a lot and often travelled in areas stretching from Satara all the way to the Crocodile Bridge.
Mafunyane received its name after one of the wardens, Louw Steyn, who was well known for his very quick temper. Mafunyane is the Tsonga word meaning ‘Irritable One’ which paired well with the elephant’s clear distain for humans. Mafunyane frequented the Shangoni region of the Kruger National Park, which included the Shingwedzi River and the Bububu Stream.
Ndlulamithi received its name from his large appearance. Ndlilamithi is Tsonga meaning ‘Taller than the Trees”. Ndlulamithi was known for travelling the roads between The Byashishi drain system and Mooiplaas. Across to the Phongol Rivers and Shingwedzi river.
Shawu received his name from the area where he spent most of his life, the Shawu Valley. Shawu had a large range he travelled which stretched from the Mopani Flats all the way to the Letaba and Shingwedzi Rivers. He did not travel the whole area regularly but took his sweet time.
Shingwedzi received its name from the river and rest camp where he spent the last years of his life. Shingwedzi means ‘Place of Ironstone’ that refers the gabbro rock outcrops in the area. Shingwedzi comes from the Tsonga word ‘Ngwetse’ which means the ‘sound two metal objects rubbing together’.