Satao, the 45-year-old jumbo and one of the largest living elephants in the world, has died. They found his lifeless body on May 30 in an unmanned area of the expansive Tsavo East National Park. When his carcass was found, his world-famous tusks were missing – together with a large part of his forehead.
The great Satao had finally fallen, killed by the poisoned arrows of poachers – that breed of humanity without a heart. But why has the death of Satao shocked the world? Why is social media rife with stories of his death? After all, was he not just another elephant in the wild?
First off, Satao was a rare breed of elephant – perhaps the last remaining of his kind on earth. His genetic makeup gave him the ability to grow really large. His size, particularly his extraordinarily large tusks, measured a whopping 6.5 feet. The tusks almost touched the ground and weighed close to 46 KG.
With such features, one cannot fail to see why this great tusker was such a major tourist attraction in Kenya. Thousands of tourists flocked to the Tsavo East National Park to catch a glimpse of this magnificent jumbo.
Interestingly you only see tuskers of Satao’s stature in Kenya. But did you know that Satao’s kind thrived in the 70s and 80s? Back then Tsavo’s elephant population stood at an impressive 40,000 strong.
Due to their relatively larger tusks compared to other elephants, they became a major target by poachers. Today, only a handful roam the Savannahs of Kenya. So conservation cringes whenever any one of them dies. Just a month before Satao’s demise, poachers speared another iconic jumbo, Mountain Bull, in the Mount Kenya area.
This was not the first attempt on Satao apparently. In March 2014, they found Satao with two seeping wounds in his flank caused by poisoned arrows shot into him. He was treated and survived. Mountain Bull, prior to his death, had also survived at least one previous poaching attempt. It left him with six bullets in his body.
Today, Kenya mourns great wildlife assets gone to waste. Tourism in Kenya has suffered a big blow. To say nothing of the host of problems in the sector. Our hope is that these mighty tuskers left a DNA print of themselves in the wild that will spur the tusker generation on.
As a country, we can only plan to invest more to protect this rich heritage. We can choose to safeguard the little that remains. We can ensure Satao and Mountain Bull’s offspring grow in an environment they can live life to its fullest.