Satao has been a prime target for ivory poachers, and unfortunately, the Tsavo Trust announced that he had been shot with a poisoned arrow late last month. Satao was one of the largest and oldest bull elephants in Kenya.
According to The Huffington Post, reported that the poachers hacked off the elephant’s legendary tusks and much of his face. “Although Satao was killed on May 30, and his corpse found on June 2, he was so badly mutilated that it took nearly 10 days to confirm that it was indeed the beloved elephant,” the site said. The elephant was about 45years old.
Satao had already survived one attempt on his life in March. The Trust, a not-for-profit organization, reported that the Kenya Wildlife Service has arrested the main poison dealer and supplier in Kilifi. The dealer’s product has been linked to many elephant deaths.
Satao was a favorite of the Trust, and was well known in the conservation world for his massive, sweeping tusks. Sadly, wildlife filmmaker Mark Deeble believed Satao had been aware of his tusks and how they made him a target. He describes the massive bull elephant cautiously moving from bush to bush when approaching a waterhole, keeping his head and tusks hidden.
“I wondered if my interpretation of his behavior was fanciful, just a filmmaker’s frustration at not being able to get a clear view,” Deeble writes, “but whenever we saw him, he tried to hide his tusks and I am convinced that it was deliberate.”
According to the most recent figures from the Kenya Wildlife Service, 97 elephants have been poached in Kenya this year, but as Paula Kahumbu writes at The Guardian, “Nobody in Kenya believes this figure.”
“I estimate, from the reports I have seen, that the elephant poaching in Kenya is at least 10 times the official figures.”