Poachers kill beloved Kenyan elephant for ivory

Tsavo Trust Executive Director Richard Moller, who found Satao's body, said: "It was the hardest report that I have ever written."
By Brooks Hays   |   June 16, 2014 at 5:40 PM

TSAVO, Kenya, June 16 (UPI) -- A giant elephant known throughout Kenya as Satao was recently found dead, killed by poachers for the male's enormous tusks. Regarded as the largest elephant in Kenya -- and maybe the world -- Satao was a adored by his countrymen and by the tourists that came to visit him.

Satao's body was found lifeless in Tsavo East National Park in late May, but Tsavo Trust, a group dedicated to conservation in the park and throughout Kenya, only recently announced the death.

The beloved elephant was killed by the poison-tipped arrow of poachers -- his head hacked off for the ivory tusks.

"Kenya as a country contains probably the last remaining big tuskers in the world," said Paula Kahumbu, a conservationist with the nonprofit WildlifeDirect. "To lose an animal like Satao is a massive loss to Kenya. He was a major tourist attraction to that part of Tsavo."

Tsavo Trust Executive Director Richard Moller, who found Satao's body, told the Guardian: "It was the hardest report that I have ever written."

Satao's passing, though exceptionally tragic considering his fame, is just one loss of many. Several wildlife groups have estimated that more than 20,000 elephants were murdered in 2013. All to feed the global thirst for ivory.

And though many of the world's wealthiest countries feature the bartering of ivory-made products, one nation accounts for 70 percent of demand -- China.

"China is the epicenter of demand," Robert Hormats, a senior State Department official, recently told The New York Times. "Without the demand from China, this would all but dry up."

The still growing superpower features more than 150 legal, government-licensed ivory shops -- many more surely exist off the books.

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