Poachers Murder One of Africa’s Oldest ‘Big Tusker’ Elephants

50-year-old Satao II was killed with a poison arrow in Tsavo National Park, Kenya

In yet another shocking ivory killing, big tusker Satao II was murdered by poachers in Kenya. Satao II was one of just 25 ‘big tusker’ elephants left worldwide marking the species critically endangered.

Richard Moller of the Tsavo Trust said Satao II, a 50-year-old elephant, was killed by a poison arrow.

The carcass was discovered by routine aerial surveillance of the Tsavo National Park. The park is said to be a “hotspot” for ivory poachers as three other poached elephants were discovered in the same area in early January.

The two poachers responsible for the killing of Satao II were detained shortly after the discovery of the elephant's body.

“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.

Satao II (named after his fellow big tusker, Satao who was killed in 2014) was a favourite at the National Park. One of 15 African elephants whose impressive tusks almost scrape the ground when walking. There is an estimated worldwide population of 25 big tusker elephants.

Satao Satao was killed by poachers and his face was hacked off in Tsavo East National Park in May 2014 PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK DEEBLE AND VICTORIA STONE, WWW.MARKDEEBLE.WORDPRESS.COM

Satao II’s murder comes only days after a KWS officer was killed during a poaching incident in the National Park. The second human fatality in a month.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the number of African elephants is dwindling. In the Tsavo area alone the number of elephants has dropped from 45,000 in the 1970s to less than 11,000 in 2014. The slaughtering and harvesting of elephants shows no sign of waning, with 30, 000 elephants poached for their ivory every year.

Satao II’s tusks weighed a whopping 50kgs each and would have yielded a lot of ivory.

“I am pretty gutted really. This particular elephant was one that was very approachable, one of those easy old boys to find. Many are the others are much more difficult to see, he has been through lots of droughts and probably other attempts at poaching.” said Moller of Satao II.

KWS released a statement on their website after the death of beloved giant, Satao II:

“Although this is a very sad loss in every way, we can take some positive from this in that Satao II’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. More importantly this poaching gang that possibly tried to poach Satao II has been broken forever. KWS acted swiftly and with support from Tsavo Trust and the informer networks in this area, the desired result was realised.”

Africa and the KWS, like elephants, will never forget.

Header: Satao 1 drinks at a water hole in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya, in 2013, when the magnificent tusker was in his prime.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK DEEBLE AND VICTORIA STONE, WWW.MARKDEEBLE.WORDPRESS.COM

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