Poachers have killed a 50-year-old ‘giant tusker’ elephant with a poisoned arrow, leaving just 25 of the iconic animals left in the world.
Satao II, named after another famed giant shot in 2014, was found dead in Tsavo National Park.
The huge animals are so called because of their impressive tusks, which are so long they nearly scrape the ground.
Rangers found Satao II, who was ‘very approachable’ and loved by visitors, on a routine aerial reconnaissance of the park.
Two poachers thought to be responsible for the killing were arrested before they could run away with the animal’s prized ivory.
According to Richard Moller, of the Tsavo Trust, there are only about 25 of the giant tuskers remaining in the world. About 15 of these are in Kenya.
There are conflicting reports about when Satao II died. Although his death was only widely reported today, a monthly report from the Tsavo Trust said his carcass was found on January 4.
Moller said: ‘They are icons, they are ambassadors for elephants.
‘This particular elephant was one that was very approachable, one of those easy old boys to find.
‘He has been through lots of droughts and probably other attempts at poaching. Many are the others are more difficult to see and stay in remote areas.
Luckily, through the work we do with the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), we were able to find the carcass before the poachers could recover the ivory.’
The incident was revealed just two days after a KWS officer was killed during an anti-poaching incident in the park.
The ranger was the second to die in less than a month at the hands of poachers.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) the number of African elephants has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000 over the past decade.
The killing shows no sign of abating with around 30,000 elephants slaughtered for their ivory every year.
Ivory is stolen mainly to satisfy demand in the Asian market for products coveted as a traditional medicine or as status symbols.
One of Satao II’s tusks weighed 112 pounds, and the other 110 pounds. Each tusk estimated to be worth over $130,000 (£85,000).
The Tsavo ecosystem covers 16,000 square miles, a major challenge for rangers from the KWS to patrol.
The Tsavo Trust helps monitor the elephants through aerial and ground reconnaissance, and works closely with KWS.