Poachers Kill Beloved 50-Year-Old Elephant; One Of The Last Remaining “Big-Tuskers” In Africa

Satao II, one of Africa’s oldest and largest elephants from the dwindling population of “big tuskers,” has been killed by poachers who shot him with a poisoned arrow in Tsavo National Park in Kenya.

It is an extremely sad and profoundly significant loss as there are only about 15 tuskers, with massive tusks that nearly touch the ground remaining in Kenya, out of an estimated worldwide population of 25, according to Richard Moller of the Tsavo Trust. A non-profit conservation group that is dedicated to protecting wildlife and its habitat.

Among its many tasks, the Tsavo Trust works closely with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and helps monitor the elephants through both routine ground and aerial reconnaissance.

Overall, the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimates, that over the last decade, the total number of remaining African elephants has declined by about 111,000 with only approximately 415,000 left in existence.

A Facebook post on the Tsavo Trust page expressed its great sadness to report the death of Satao II, “one of Tsavo’s most iconic and well-loved tuskers.”

“They are icons, they are ambassadors for elephants,” said Moller about the parks beloved elephant.

The only sliver of positive news regarding this tragedy, shared Moller, was that due to the organization’s close collaboration with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, they were able to find the body of Satao II before the poachers recovered his ivory with one tusk alone weighing in at 113.5 pounds.

“Although this is a very sad loss in every way, we can take some positive from this in that Satao’s carcass was indeed found with the ivory intact, and recovered before it could fall into the wrong hands and further fuel the illegal ivory market,” the Tsavo Trust said in a statement. “More importantly, this poaching gang… has been broken forever.”

The pair of poachers suspected of being responsible for the travesty was quickly apprehended after Satao II’s carcass was spotted during a routine aerial reconnaissance of the national park which covers approximately 16,000 sq miles; making it immensely challenging for rangers to patrol.

Three bows, 12 poisoned arrows and an AK47 rifle, were among the items found near the scene, the park reported.

Unfortunately, the latest killing of Satao II, further points to that there are no signs of poaching slowing down in the near future; with approximately 30,000 elephants slaughtered every year to either satisfy the demand in the Asian market for products coveted as traditional medicine or to serve as a status symbol.

The news of Satao II’s death comes days after a KWS officer was killed during an anti-poaching incident in the park.

Source: The Guardian, BBC

Photo Credits: Wildlife Conservation Network, BBC

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