Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

In Tragedy, Inspiration

October 5th, 2009 · 6 Comments

For those of us who worship at the altar of hops and malted barley, no trip to Kenya can be complete without sampling a bottle or twelve of Tusker, East African Breweries’ flagship beer. It’s by no means a great lager—when served cold, it reminded us of the thin-yet-refreshing Brazilian brew Antarctica. But Tusker gets point for its intriguing back label, which declares that the beer is named after the elephant that killed one of the drink’s creators.

Really? Such an explanation struck us as apocryphal, so we felt compelled to do some research upon returning stateside. Sure enough, the Tusker folks don’t lie—we’ll pick up the historical action on a farm in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater:

The neglected farm contained little but a pack of equally neglected Australian Kangaroo hounds. Their master, Captain G.H.R. (George) Hurst, had moved into Ngorongoro as a rancher soon after the First World War, hoping to persuade the Custodian of Enemy Property to let him buy a farm on the far side of the Crater, appropriated from its German owner.

His dream of living out his life in that wild and glorious arena was brought to a very tragic end, for his application for legal ownership was turned down on favour of Sir Charles Ross. Hurst, perhaps to alleviate his disappointment, set off on a hunting safari and was killed by an elephant, on the Tanganyika coast.

This wasn’t Hurst’s first negative experience with East Africa’s wildlife, though—he was apparently mauled by a lion several months prior to his final demise at the tusks of Tusker.

At least one account of Hurst’s death claims that he wasn’t hunting his pachyderm killer, but merely photographing it. Yet as this Sri Lankan video amply demonstrates, some elephants can take offense to seemingly random slights.

(Image via Todd’s Photo World)


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