To picture the magnificence of an elephant one need only look to the beauty of the African bull elephant known as a Tusker. They are remarkable not only for their massive size but for their “impressive tusks” which all but touch the ground. For this reason Tuskers have become the iconic symbol of the elephant, even an “Ambassador” of sorts for the species, and who could argue with that?
One such Tusker was Satao II who had roamed freely at his home in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya for an estimated 50 years.
Now, this elephant had “survived numerous droughts and probably other attempts at poaching“. But as Richard Moller of The Tsavo Trust noted, it was Satao II’s approachable nature (tourists loved him) that made this “old boy” particularly vulnerable, despite the efforts of the Kenya Wildlife Service and The Tsavo Trust surveiling the grounds. When you have an ecosystem as vast as the Tsavo National Park (16,000 square miles), even strengthened by sophisticated “aerial and ground reconnaissance,” the fight against poaching can prove an unbearable task.
And just as his namesake had been found, three years earlier lying dead on the ground with a poisoned arrow in his side, so too did Satao II meet that fate (most likely this past January 4th). Only this time the poachers were unable to make off with their prized ivory, the value of which was a mere (compared to an elephant’s life) $130,000.00 for the 110 pounds or so that each massive tusk weighed.
With each selfish act these poachers unconscionably continue to focus on the value of an elephant’s ivory while remaining oblivious to the overall value of our elephants in their ecosystem’s circle of life. This is beyond cruel.
If solace can be found, aside from the fact that this blood ivory will not enter the illegal ivory trade markets, this loss of another great Tusker, Satao II, has exposed an “alleged poaching gang“. This discovery of yet another elephant carcass (Satao II) has led to the apprehension of “two alleged poachers” who may have killed three other recently discovered elephants in the same area of Tsavo East National Park long known as the ‘poaching hotspot‘. And this “alleged poaching gang” who took Satao II’s life quite possibly has been “broken forever”.
But giving your up life when you are an elephant is not an option any longer. With fewer than 25 Tuskers left on the continent of Africa, and only 10 Tuskers believed to be roaming in the Tsavo National Park, the situation is beyond critical.
As elephant advocates we must ask ourselves: what will it take to protect our elephants and guarantee a future for this magnificent species?
One thing is certain; there can never be a day or a moment that elephant conservationists don’t continue to fight back. For as long as it takes. Our elephants’ future still remains in our hands.
Please support elephant conservation charities such as Tsavo Trust’s ‘ Big Tusker Project‘ now.
Resources: “Another Giant Falls to the Poachers: 50-Year-Old ‘Giant Tusker’ [Saito (sic)] Satao II is Killed by a Poisoned Arrow, Leaving Just 25 of the Iconic Animals in the World” by Rory Tingle for The Daily Mail, MailOnline
“One of Africa’s Last Great Tusker Elephants Was Killed By Poachers” by Sarah Gibbens of The National Geographic
For photo of Satao II found after he was killed see The Daily Mail
See Video of a “Dying Bull Elephant” Tusker SAVED after he was “poisoned by a poacher” at The Daily Mail
See: Why are Elephants Important? here at Save the Elephants
Kenya Wildlife Service / Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo Trust’s ‘Big Tusker Project‘
Image by John Hickey-Fry \: Creative Commons Wiki : Tuskers, similar to Satao II, at Watering Hole in Tsavo East National Park in Kenya & Drawing of poached elephant Creative Commons Flickr by Blumpi & CC Flickr: Tusker in profile (not Satao II) by Jordan Brock