Poaching continues to be a major problem for a number of beautiful species in Kenya, and yet another animal has reportedly fallen victim to this heinous activity.
This time, a 50-year-old ‘giant tusker’ elephant, which went by the name of Satao II, fell victim. It’s one of the continent’s last remaining specimens, as there are thought to only be around 25 giant tuskers in the wild today; 15 of which reside in Kenya.
Image Credit: Tsavo National Park
Giant tusker elephants aren’t a unique species, but they’re a classification of elephants in and of themselves because they’ve got abnormally large tusks. It takes several decades for an elephant’s tusks to get this large, which is how we can determine the elephant’s age.
In the case of Satao II, whose tusks were so long that they scraped the ground as he walked, there was evidence that the animal was stuck down by a poisoned arrow. The animal, who is said to have been named after another elephant that fell victim to poaching back in 2014, was known by Tsavo National Park to be incredibly friendly.
The tusks were not yet removed from the animal when it was found dead, which suggests that those who took the creature down didn’t get a chance to take them. Authorities ensured the ivory would not be passed along in the black market, where it doesn’t belong in the first place.
Two men from a local poaching gang were suspected of killing the creature and were later arrested before they could return to the carcass and attempt to snatch the tusks. Authorities say it’s a win for conservationists, as their capture led to a significant breakup of the poaching gang.
“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 but also more importantly, this poaching gang that possibly tried to poach Satao 2 has been broken forever,” the Tsavo Trust said in a statement. “KWS acted swiftly and with support from Tsavo Trust and the informer networks in this area, the desired result was realized.”
Kenya’s Tsavo National Park is reportedly a hotspot for poachers to take down large animals. Poisoned arrows like the one used to take down Satao II are typically found all over the place in the region, either from being used or from missed shots.
The large tusks from these giant tusker elephants put a huge target on their backs because of the sheer amount of valuable ivory just dangling from their heads. Unfortunately, people are greedy, and they are willing to take a life for the opportunity to make a large sum of money.
Without improvements to how to protect these wild animals from criminals, they could one day cease to exist.