Ahmed the Elephant of Marsabit

Discussion in 'Articles' started by AfricaHunting.com, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Ahmed the Elephant of Marsabit

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    Ahmed in the forests of Mount Marsabit

    Ahmed of Marsabit was and still is the most famous Elephant ever to have roamed the African continent. The territory around Mount Marsabit in Kenya may always have been renowned for its extraordinary tuskers, yet this particular ”Bwana Tembo” eclipses all predecessors. Born in 1919, Ahmed came from the forests of Mount Marsabit and grew to become a truly unique giant, justifiably known by the natives and big game hunters alike, as the "King of Marsabit".

    (click on image to enlarge)
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    The day I saw Ahmed by George Laycock

    In 1970, in order to protect him from poachers, former President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, placed the Elephant under his protection by presidential decree, an unparalleled occurrence in the history of the country and the only Elephant to be declared a living monument. The giant was watched over day and night by two hunters against poachers.

    A loner and quite elusive, Ahmed was seldom seen and was known better by reputation than by sight. One morning in 1974, after having waited in vain for their charge to reappear from the copse he had disappeared into the night before, his personal body guards decided to go and look for him. When they found Ahmed dead, he was not lying on his side, but resting majestically on his famous tusks, half leaning against a tree. He was 55.

    While Ahmed was alive it was thought that his tusks were of record size but after his death his tusks were found to weigh only 67,2 kg (148 lbs) each. This is still no mean size but is far from some other tuskers.

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    Ahmed skull and tusks

    Today, Ahmed of Marsabit can be admired as a mounted exhibit in front of the Kenya National Museum in Nairobi.

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    Ahmed of Marsabit at the Kenya National Museum in Nairobi
     
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  2. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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    Ahmed's demise was further reported in a passage of the book The Hunter and the Go-Away Bird written by Steve Smith, a well-know professional hunter in Kenya who later moved to South Africa, where he headed Rowland Ward Publications. According to Steve, Ahmed had not been seen for two or three days and when they found his body they assumed he'd died of old age. To skin and bring the huge skeleton was the task of Wolfgang Schenk of Zimmerman's. Zimmerman's manager, Peter Wain, contacted Steve and asked him to meet with him about Ahmed. At first Steve thought Peter wanted advice on how to extract the tusks from the skull without damaging the surrounding bone of the sockets. Then Peter confided in him that Ahmed's death seemed not to be as it appeared. They'd found a bullet that had recently penetrated the stomach and undoubtedly caused peritonitis and subsequent death. By that time news of Ahmed's death had appeared in overseas newspapers and, when Peter informed the government of his findings, orders were subsequently issued to suppress the disclosure. Steve wrote: "One day the truth might come about what really happened to the great animal that now stands outside the Museum, mounted in fiberglass and resin, for his skin was too far gone to recover and was thrown away."
     
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  3. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Interesting to hear he had been shot. Evidently his body guards didn't do a good job.
     

  4. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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    Steve said Peter Jenkins, the Game Warden then, asked the game scouts about Ahmed and was told they hadn't seen him for two or three days. They went looking for him and discovered the body. Interestingly the bullet in Ahmed's stomach was the same caliber as that used by rifles issued to game scouts at that time. Speculation was rife as to the motives and who actually shot Ahmed but nothing was ever proven.
     
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  5. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Judy,

    You mention that Peter Jenkins was the Game Warden when Ahmed was killed. Do you know when George Adamson would have left as Warden of the NFD? I am obviously wrong, but I thought he was a Warden in the north into the 1980's.

    Thanks
     

  6. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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    Wheels,
    I'm not sure about George Adamson - but I can certainly check on it for you. I'd be happy to do some digging over the weekend on both of them and get back to you.
     
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  7. edward

    edward GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    in that country im surprised the body ungards wernt killed.
     

  8. AfricaHunting.com

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  9. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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    Did some digging as promised. George Adamson was indeed the game warden for Marsabit for quite some time. However, Stan Bleazard was appointed the game warden in 1960 and took on the responsibilities of both the Marsabit and Moyale districts - a range of about 33,000 square miles. Stan said that he knew George only slightly before 1958 but became better acquainted after his posting to Marsabit. I never met George Adamson but did know Stan Bleazard and had the pleasure of having lunch with him a couple of times when he was in Nairobi.

    An editor's footnote in Stan's book, The Impossible Dream, gives some background: "At the time Stan Bleazard would not have been aware that the Adamsons' preoccupation with Elsa and her cubs had eclipsed George's effectiveness as a Game Warden and consequently his superiors wanted him to reitre. George had spoken of doing so, but was taking his time about it as, being a Warden gave him many privileges that were useful where his lions were concerned. Stan's posting reduced his once huge range to a single district and was, inter alia, a gentle nudge to make up his mind."
     
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  10. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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  11. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Thanks for the information. I was mistaken in thinking he remained over the NFD. I also did an internet search and it seems Adamson retired then ended up at Kora NP until is death working with the lions. I thought I remembered he was with the wildlife dept when he died. (Obviously wrong) He was only living at a NP when he died which led to my confusion.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Adamson
     

  12. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Thank you for sharing all of your insight Judy!
     

  13. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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    And about those tusks at the Nairobi station ... I thought of something else and have reached out to an acquaintance who remembers reading more about them somewhere. This might take a bit more time, but I'll get back to you as soon as I hear from him!
     
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  14. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Thanks Judy, you are very resourceful! :)
     

  15. Foxi

    Foxi AH Elite

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    Judy, Jerome and all,
    here is the story directly von Wolfgang Schenk in the hunting newspaper "Hunters Path/ Jagdzeit International"-publisher Jagdzeit AG/Melsungen Germany.
    Wolfgang Schenk was round 10 years the chief taxidermy from Zimmermann/Nairobi and the man who skinned Ahmed.
    He said,Ahmed died on a natural way.
    Some "experts" was disappointed,that the tusks don't weight more (149+147 lbs !!) because Ahmed was a "small" elephant ,10 feet high and the ivory was looking bigger.
    It was me allwoed from the chiefeditor to bring the article here from this legend.
    Nearby" Hunters Path" is a really good magazine for the Globetrotter-hunters.
    Hope you have joy with the pics like me.
    Fox

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  16. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Thanks @Foxi for bringing this article to us, great images and story!
     

  17. Foxi

    Foxi AH Elite

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    Jerome,
    ups,I forgot the last page.
    Foxi
     
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  18. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com AH ENABLER FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Fixed, thank you.
     

  19. JudyB

    JudyB AH Member

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    Amazing photographic record. It's interesting to note the two variations on how Ahmed died.
     

  20. Wheels

    Wheels AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Foxi, you do a great job of adding information from the German prospective. Thanks
     
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