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One Of Africa’s Largest Elephants Killed As Poaching Remains ‘Alarmingly High’
June 16, 2014
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(Photo: Tsavo Trust)

Satao was one of the last "great tuskers." The African elephant was believed to have been born in the late 1960s, and its tusks weighed more than 45 kilograms.

It was those tusks that attracted poachers to Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Over the weekend, the Tsavo Trust, a non-profit which monitors the park, announced that Satao had been shot dead by a poisoned arrow.

"Today it is with enormous regret that we confirm there is no doubt that Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries," the group wrote in a statement. "A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece."

According to the Trust, Satao's carcass was found with an arrow in its left flank and its enormous tusks removed. The bull had last been seen alive on May 19 with four other elephants, just 300 metres from where its carcass was found.

Mark Deeble, a documentary filmmaker who had extensively filmed the elephant, wrote that this was not the first attempt on Satao's life by poachers. "He’d been injured by poachers’ arrows before — the last time in February, but they’d not penetrated far enough for the poison to do much damage," he said.

Although Satao lived in a protected national park, the area it frequented spanned 1,000 square kilometres, which the Trust says makes it difficult for anti-poaching units to cover.

Conservationists blame a soaring demand for ivory in Asian countries for the "alarmingly high" rates of poaching. Across Africa, an estimated 20,000 elephants were killed for their ivory last year, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In the Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park, 68 elephants were killed in the last two months alone. “The situation is extremely serious,” park manger Jean-Marc Froment said in a statement. “The park is under attack on all fronts.” In 2012, there were an estimated 2,000 elephants in the park — down from 20,000 in the 1960s.

The value of ivory has now surpassed that of gold, with each tusk selling for tens of thousands of dollars, attracting organized crime. According to AP, armed groups in Africa have been using the ivory trade to help fund military struggles (the poachers in Garamba used helicopters, grenades and chain saws). Renegade groups from the Congolese army, as well as Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, have been implicated as well. The CITES report also points to poverty and weak governance for the soaring trade.

“Satao was probably one of half a dozen of Kenya’s great tuskers, possibly the largest,” Deeble told The Telegraph. “If Satao’s death can galvanize the focus on what’s actually happening here in terms of poaching, then he won’t have died in vain.”

Via The Telegraph

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