An elephant in Kenya believed to be one of the country’s largest has been killed after spending years adapting its behavior to evade poachers.
Richard Moller of The Tsavo Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to support wildlife, told The Telegraph that Satao was found dead on May 30 in Tsavo National Park. On Friday, the elephant’s carcass was spotted with its tusks – which weigh more than 100 pounds -- hacked off.
“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,” Moller said. “A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece.”
Mark Deeble, a British documentary filmmaker who has filmed Satao, told The Telegraph that the elephant was “probably one of half a dozen of Kenya’s great tuskers, possibly the largest.”
The elephant wandered into the park to find fresh water and observers say Satao moved from bush to bush to keep its ivory hidden.
International wildlife regulators told The Associated Press that more than 20,000 elephants were poached last year in Africa, where large seizures of smuggled ivory eclipsed those in Asia for the first time.
Eighty percent of the African seizures were in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, three of the eight nations required to draw up plans to curb ivory smuggling, officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) reported.
The report says poaching is increasing in Central African Republic, but declining in Chad. But CITES, which regulates 35,000 species of plants and animals and which banned ivory trade in 1989, says the overall poaching numbers in 2013 dropped from the previous two years.
"We are seeing better law enforcement and demand-reduction efforts across multiple countries, as well as greater political and public attention to this unfolding crisis," said John Scanlon, the CITES secretary-general.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.