The carcass of one of the oldest and rarest African bush elephants in Kenya was found near the border of Tsavo national park. The 50-year-old elephant, which was known as Satao 2, was killed by poachers who were after its rare giant tusks that would fetch quite a fortune in the ivory market.
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Satao 2 who was named after Satao, another giant tusker that was also killed in 2014, seems to have been feeding at the border when tragedy struck. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers and Tsavo Trust officers found the body in January during an aerial reconnaissance of the park, before the poachers could get to the body and get away with the large tusks, which weighed 51 and 50.5 kilograms.
The Tsavo Trust group said that the elephant was likely killed by poisonous arrows just like Satao. This was quite a devastating loss according to Richard Moller, one of the members of Tsavo trust, who described Satao 2 as one of the most approachable, and one of those “easy old boys” in the park. The killing of Satao 2 has left its kind on the brink of extinction as only a few are left in the world – only about 15 of them in Kenya.
To add to the worry, Satao 2 was not the only victim, as the same poachers seem to have killed three others. The attacks all seemed to have happened in the same area, which is considered a “poaching hotspot”. As a result, the KWS and park’s team decided to visit this hotspot, deep in the park, and hunt for the poachers. The party was successful and they were able to arrest two suspected poachers, who had in their possession an AK47 rifle, three bows and six poisonous arrows.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) African Elephant Status Report 2016, over the last ten years poaching has caused the largest decline of elephants on the African continent in last 25 years.
The report says that elephants in Africa have declined by approximately 111,000 due to the high demand of ivory from the Asian market. East Africa has especially been hit hard, causing worry amongst conservationists and government.