#ShockWildlifeTruths: Poachers kill one of Africa's last Great Tusker elephants

2017-03-09 08:30 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
Post a comment 0

Cape Town - Conservationists are mourning the loss of one of the last great African Tuskers - Satao II - after the 50-year-old animal was reportedly killed by a poisoned arrow in the eastern region of Kenya's Tsavo National Park. 

The area is known as a "poaching hot spot," National Geographic reports. 

Although Satao II's carcass was already spotted in January during a routine flyover, news of the great animal's death was only publicly announced on Monday, 6 January. 

According to conservation group Tsavo Trust in southern Kenya, the elephant's magnificent ivory tusks were still in the carcass, confirming that its killers did not illegally trade its ivory. 

Although illegal slaughter of the animal counts as an act of poaching, the conservation workers of the Kenyan Wildlife Service could recover the ivory before the poachers ransacked the scene. 

This is according to Richard Moller of the Tsavo Trust, saying the Satao II was beloved by all visitors to the park. 

This is what he looked like -

ALSO SEE: Tuskers: Tracking the living Legends of the Kruger National Park

A post shared by Dex Kotze (@dexkotze) on

And this is the image shared following his death - 

Ironically, Satao II was named after another giant of the same name killed in 2014. Satao I also died of a poisoned arrow. 

READ: Tuskers: Tracking the living Legends of the Kruger National Park

As ambassadors for elephant conservation globally, Moller said, these iconic animals are part of a dwindling group. He said that about 15 tuskers remained in Kenya out of an estimated worldwide population of 25. 

READ: Elephant ambassador 'Charlie' felled by poachers' gun

Mighty animals fighting a mighty battle to survive 

The African continent is losing elephants at an alarming rate - every 15 minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory in East Africa. Sadly, the gentle giants of the continent have become most vulnerable due to human involvement. 

A staggering 30 000 elephants a year are killed by poachers. According to wildlife conservation journalist Scott Ramsay, the African elephant saw a 97% decline in the species in less than a century.

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: The Elephants' 97% decline in less than a century 

While the cause of killing has not been confirmed, the method of killing as well as the fact that the tusks were left in the carcas might point to the reason for Satao II death. 

According to the Tsavo Trust, "crop-raiding elephants can easily devour one or more families' precious crop and entire seasonal provisions in just one night.

"This is a big concern for local villagers of Tsavo Trust's Kamungi Conservancy," the trust wrote in an earlier post on Facebook. 

There are, however, initiatives to eliminate this type of poaching, as elephants are already facing enough poaching pressure from illegal hunters and wildlife traffickers. 

An initiative led by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in association with British Airways, human-elephant conflict is being managed in a most sustainable manner - by erecting honey-bee fences between areas where humans grow food, and elephants roam freely. 

SEE: Human-elephant conflict: Bees fight the sustainable battle in Kenya

The project, piloted in 2014 in consultation with elephant expert Dr Lucy King, has now been expanded. 

The farmers in the area were desperate for a solution and very receptive to the idea two years ago. And their hopes for a solution paid off.

Still, incidences like Satao II's senseless slaughter add to the death toll and decline of these iconic species. 

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: The Elephants' 97% decline in less than a century

What to read next on Traveller24

China's big New Year's resolution: Ivory trade banned from 2017

#ShockWildlifeTruths: The Elephants' 97% decline in less than a century

Human-elephant conflict: Bees fight the sustainable battle in Kenya