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Satao II: KWS confirms death of one of African oldest elephants

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) confirmed Wednesday that one of Africa’s oldest and Kenya’s last great tusker elephants was found dead on Jan 4 in Tsavo East National Park in southeast Kenya.

KWS spokesman Paul Gathitu said Satao II, about 50 years old, was found dead under unclear circumstances.

"We wish to confirm that the elephant was found dead on Jan. 4, in Tsavo East National Park near Satao area," Gathitu said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

He said the initial inspection by a joint KWS and Tsavo Trust team during the removal of tusks did not find any unusual marks on the carcass and, therefore, was considered to have died from natural causes.

The iconic Satao lived in Tsavo East National park and was one of Tsavo’s most adored elephants, was famous as one of the last surviving great tuskers, bearers of genes that produce bull elephants with long tusks that touch the ground.

The elephant was named after another giant was killed in 2014 when it fell victim of runaway poaching in Tsavo.

Gathitu said the carcass of the iconic beast was subsequently not touched by any scavengers which led to the deduction that the elephant could have died from poisoning.

"However, this remains inconclusive as to whether it was as a result of poaching or retaliatory attack by community members due to human wildlife conflict," he said.

The iconic beast is called Tusker elephants because they have tusks weighing over 45kg since they are critically endangered.

Kenya remains a poaching hotspot in Africa despite widespread campaign by conservationists to condemn the menace that is to blame for loss of millions of dollars and ecosystems disruption.

The poaching menace has brought renewed attention to a crisis that has persisted for decades—the steady decline of Africa’s wildlife due to growing human populations and poverty that has put agricultural communities at odds with wildlife for resources.

Conflict between land for wildlife and land for farmers and pastoralists in Kenya has also reached crisis level with rampant killing of lions and elephants among other types of important wildlife.



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