One of the almost extinct and largest elephants in Africa, the giant tusker elephant, has been killed by poachers in Kenya.
The 50-year-old giant tusker, named Satao II after a slayed animal of its kind, was killed with a poisoned arrow leaving only about 25 of the iconic animals in the world according to Richard Moller of the Tsavo Trust.
Moller said Satao II was found dead on Monday on a routine aerial reconnaissance of Tsavo national park.
Two poachers who were believed to be responsible for the killing were almost immediately apprehended after the carcass was found.
”He (Satao II) has been through lots of droughts and probably other attempts at poaching. Many are the others are more difficult to see and stay in remote areas.”
”Luckily, through the work we do with the Kenyan Wildlife Service, we were able to find the carcass before the poachers could recover the ivory,” said Moller.
The giant tusker elephant’s death comes two days after a KWS officer was killed during an anti-poaching incident in the park. According to the wildlife authority, the officier is the second to die in less than a month at the hands of poachers.
Moller described Satao II as very approachable and loved by visitors. He said the elephant and its kind are icons and ambassadors for other elephants. Their ‘giant tusker’ name comes from their impressive tusks, which are so long they nearly scrape the ground.
One of Satao II’s tusks weighed 51.5kg and the other 50.5kg with each tusk estimated to be worth over $130,000.
The animals are usually poached for their ivory which is taken to the Asian continent where it is used as either traditional medicine or jewelry to show status.
Due to the huge demand in ivory, poaching has been a very serious challenge animal conservatists have had to face. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the number of African elephants has fallen by about 111,000 to 415,000 over the past decade.
The Tsavo National Park itself covers about 16,000 sq miles making it a major challenge for rangers to cover.
The Tsavo Trust which Richard Moller works closely with the wildlife authority and helps monitor the elephants through aerial and ground reconnaissance.