In 1954 Jose (Joseph) Fenykovi (in Hungarian: Fénykövi) found the tracks of the largest animal ever existed in the world, in the mud by a lake in the jungles of Angola. It belonged to a remarkably big elephant.

Joseph Fenykovi, engineer and big game hunter was born Hungarian but lived in Spain. He and his wife went to their 1,000-acre ranch in Angola for three months every year to do big game sport hunting.

It was his sixth trip to Africa when he saw the huge track for the first time. After measuring it, he realized that he is probably chasing the biggest animal alive, because it was three feet big, which happened to be a foot bigger than the largest elephant’s track recorded up until that time. But as he was lacking appropriate support he left without looking for the animal.

In 1995 Fenykovi returned with all the necessary equipment, and on the 12th November, they luckily found an approximately three-feet diameter track. After a few hours he and his team were going after the Elephant, and another big bull.

As they reached the animals the hunters fired their guns, but six bullets from the .416 Rigby were not enough to bring down the huge animal.

It is very dangerous to be in the jungle with two injured monsters, therefore they turned around and ran until they reached the jeeps where they could see bloody tracks. Fortunately, the animals separated, so they had to worry about only one at a time.

Photo: wikimedia

Three of his colleagues, Francisco, Kukuya and Mario went into the jungle to locate the beast while he was waiting at the edge of the jungle. He described these moments like this:

“I waited for a little over half an hour, growing ever more impatient, but I knew that would be a fool if I were going into the jungle alone. This was probably the hardest part: waiting. All of a sudden I heard a shot from the .416, followed by another, and then two more: altogether four shots in rapid-fire succession. Afterward there was complete silence.”

After hearing two more shots he saw Kukuya coming back and saying “Fallen!”

“There the enormous elephant lay on his side, amidst the carnage of blood, broken trees and trampled brush that had marked its struggle to death. When I let my eyes roam over his vast expanse I could hardly believe that any animal could be so big, and I understood why it had taken so many heavy-caliber bullets to finish him off.”

The numbers he measured broke the previous record of Lawrence G. Thaw:

  • Height from ground to withers, 13 feet 2 inches.
  • Length from trunk tip to tail tip in straight line, 27 feet 6 inches; whole skin from trunk tip to tail tip, 33 feet 2 inches.
  • Length of feet front, 2 feet; rear, 2 feet 1 inches.
  • Circumference of feet front, 5 feet 7 inches; rear 5 feet 2 inches.
  • Circumference of body at widest point, 19 feet 8 inches.

Back at the time Fenykovi would not have known that this animal became endangered within a few years.

He gave the parts of the animal as a gift to the National Museum of Natural History on the 6th March, 1959, were it is still on view.


Copy editor: bm


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