Satao, one of Kenya’s largest elephants, has died after being shot by poachers using poisoned arrows.
Satao was one of the last surviving ‘great tuskers’, elephants with tusks so large they reach down to the ground.
He had been living in the Tsavo East National Park in northern Kenya but had become a target for poachers, who were using GPS and mobile phones to track him.
For 18 months, the Kenyan Wildlife Service joined forces with the Tsavo Trust to monitor Satao’s movements using aerial reconnaissance and ground personnel within his known home range.
Despite this, poachers were still able to reach him and in March, the 50-year-old elephant was shot by poachers using poisoned arrows. Vets rushed to the scene to treat him and he went on to make a surprise recovery.
But in May, an elephant carcass was discovered by June Richard Moller, Executive Director of the Trust, and on Friday the Trust confirmed it was Satao, who had been killed by a poisoned arrow.
In a statement, the Trust paid tribute to “the most iconic and well-loved tuskers” and mourned “a great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece”.
It said: “This magnificent elephant was widely known in Tsavo East National Park, where he was observed with awe by many thousands of Tsavo’s visitors over the years.
“No longer will Tsavo and Kenya benefit from his mighty presence. Satao was shot dead by poisoned arrow on 30th May 2014.
“The arrow had entered his left flank and he stood no chance of survival. We spotted his carcass on 2 June but to avoid any potential false alarms, we first took pains to verify the carcass really was his.
“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.”
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