RMCA
Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren - Belgium
Tel. (+32) 02 769 52 11
Fax (+32) 02 769 52 42

 

Treasure of the month

The mounted elephant

J.D. Burton © KMMA - MRAC

The mounted elephant undoubtedly remains in the memory of everyone who was just knee-high when they were brought on a visit to the Royal Museum for Central Africa by their parents or grandparents. Its impressive size and magnificent tusks leave a lasting imprint, especially in the minds of children.

Today, the giant mammal prepares for a new adventure as it moves elsewhere during the museum
renovation. But it will not be shut up in a dark cellar, nor will its departure go unnoticed: such a rare event deserves due attention. Thus, during the grand closing weekend  of 30 November 2013, our elephant will start its journey for Technopolis in Mechelen...

Like many of the museum’s other animals, this proud specimen was collected for the 1958 World’s Fair. It was killed in the Bushimaie hunting ground, in Sud-Kasai, after having been tracked by a group of hunters for ten days. It collapsed on its belly and needed to be turned with the help of no fewer than 200 villagers.

The beast was immediately skinned and its meat was eaten there. Meanwhile, the hide was salted and placed on a clay base to dry in the shade. Once both hide and bones were dry, they were shipped to London, where a frame had been built to receive the hide, tusks, and teeth.
In 1957, the elephant took to sea again and reached Brussels for Expo 58. A year later, it arrived in the museum at Tervuren.

The tusks, some 40 kilos each, were so heavy that their weight began dragging the head down, tearing the skin on the mounted elephant’s back. It was restored in 2001.
 

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