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Farewell, Satao II: One Of Africa's Last Great Tusker Elephant Killed by Poachers

Mar 09, 2017 05:34 AM EST

One of the few remaining giant tusker elephants in South Africa has been killed by poachers.

During an aerial routine reconnaissance last January, the body of Satao II, estimated to be 50 years old was found at the Tsavo National Park.The information was just announced Monday.

It is estimated that there are only 25 remaining giant tusker elephants in the world; 15 are in Africa. With Satao II gone, the number has gone down.

These giant tuskers have tusks that nearly reach the ground, making them an attractive target of poachers who profit from the elephant's ivory.

Richard Moller of Tsavo Trust, a group of conservationists told AFP that Satao II's tusks were remarkably gigantic. The other one weighed 51.5kg and the other 50.5kg. Fortunately, Satao II's ivories were intact when they found him.

"I am pretty gutted really. This particular elephant was one that was very approachable, one of those easy old boys to find. Many are the others are much more difficult to see," Moller said. "He has been through lots of droughts and probably other attempts at poaching."
Reports from the park said he was killed by poisoned arrows.

National Geographic notes that Tsavo Trust and Kenya Wildlife Servie were able to catch the criminals who ruthless killed the giant. The two poachers were armed with an AK-47 firearm, 12 poisoned arrows, and three bows.

They are believed to be responsible as well with the three other elephants that had recently been poached in the same area.

Giant tusker elephants are considered valuable in the ecosystem especially for their kind. Because they have been alive for decades, they have gathered experiences from which the younger elephants learn from.

"Every great tusker killed by poachers is an irreplaceable loss to the gene pool and does irrevocable damage to the ancient knowledge carried forward from these sentient beings," Paul Oxton, founder and director of Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation, told The Dodo.

Satao II, was named after Satao who was killed in 2014 by poachers using poisoned arrows as well. His face was hacked off and his tusks were taken to be sold for ivory. US, China and Hong Kong are among the largest markets for ivory.

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