Iconic Giant Tusker Poached in Kenya

Iconic Giant Tusker Poached in Kenya

Photo credit: CNN / ©Richard Moller / Tsavo Trust 2016

Pictured above: Park rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo Trust with the tusks of Satao II. They were able to recover the tusks before claimed by poachers. 

It has been a very bad week for two of Africa's most iconic species. On Thursday NRAHLF.ORG reported that a white rhino was poached in a zoo in France where its horn was cut off with a chainsaw, and now we have reports that one of Africa’s few remaining “giant tuskers”—elephants known for the sheer size of their tusks—was poached in southern Kenya. The approximately 50-year-old-giant elephant named Satao II was found in Tsavo East National Park during a routine flyover in January but the news was only released this week as law enforcement officials explained the bull was shot with a poisoned arrow. The elephant was named after Satao, another giant tusker poached in Kenya in 2014, and was considered one of the best-known and most iconic elephants left in Africa. For a sampling of news links covering the crime, click the following links:

Giant tuskers, recognized by tusks that are so long they may touch the ground, number as few as 25 to 30 in all of Africa. While Satao II was taken down with a poison arrow, fortunately he was found with both enormous tusks still intact, both of which weighed close to 110 pounds, before poachers could steal them and further fuel the ivory market. The good news is the two poachers, who were part of a poaching gang, were caught shortly after the elephant was discovered—armed with a bow, poison arrows and an AK-47.

On my many travels to Africa as a hunter-conservationist, outdoor TV host and outfitter, I am fortunate to have seen a magnificent giant tusker in the wild. On several occasions when I visited Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa in particular, I spent time at KNP’s Letaba Elephant Hall, the park’s giant elephant museum. The museum has some past giant bulls on display for public education and research and maintains a list of the names of all giant tuskers living in the park. Unfortunately, while KNP park officials patrol and keep watch over the remaining giant bulls, poachers have them severely outnumbered as is the case in any wildlife park containing both rhinos and elephants. As long as the thriving black market in Asia continues to drive the illegal traffic and trade of both rhino horn, as reported earlier this week, and elephant tusks, the crime of poaching will perpetuate more violence and exploitation.