- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On June 25, 2014
- 0 Comments
The month of June did not start well and has not been a good one for the wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists as well as the Tourism industry and the Kenyan society at large. News broke in, that Kenya’s oldest and also world’s largest elephant Satao was found lying dead in the Swamp at the beginning of this month before Terrorists massacred people in the town of Mpeketoni.
The wounded huge elephant carcass was first spotted by Richard Moller, the Executive Director of the Tsavo Trust lying in a swamp though difficult to recognize whether it was Satao or not since the head was severely wounded and its tusks dug out. The Tsavo Trust runs an inspirational campaign to popularize and protect Kenya’s remaining great tuskers. Their work brings vast ecstasy and jubilation when an elephant with huge tusks is found in the wild.
Thorough search was launched by Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS) including aerial patrols to check whether Satao was alive or not. Mean while they decided not to break the bad news to the public until they had enough proof that it was Satao.
After a long fruitless search for her, the 45 year old Satao was finally confirmed dead and news were released on 12th June 2014. I was greatly touched by the fate of this iconic figure in the wild, very humble and innocent falling in the hands of the greedy and egocentric poachers in the name of ivory trade.
The 6 tones elephant is said to have survived almost a similar attack by poachers in early March who had shot at it with poisoned arrows but was saved by the elephant census exercise that was going on at the time. This helped Satao to be discovered trailing with the wounds and the veterinary doctors rushed to its rescue. A few weeks later, Satao’s wounds were reported to be healing well and from then a 24/7 surveillance was put on him to avoid any other attack on this huge bull.
Satao’s huge tusks that are said to have been long enough to touch the ground were the key attraction to the poachers and could have left them salivating when their first attempt came out fruitless. Satao was one of the few bulls that produced the huge tuskers and his death is a huge blow to their survival.
Mark Deeble describes Satao in his emotional blog post as a very intelligent creature that learnt the demand of his tusks by the poachers and adopted a behavior of hiding in thick vegetation. He observed that this huge bull could spend much of its time in thick and tall vegetation in order to avoid being spotted by the poachers.
This unfortunate incident of the huge tusker slaughter in East Tsavo National park came a short time after a similar slaughter of a fellow huge tusker, Mountain bull in the deep jungles of Mt.Kenya.
The sad news of this great tusker has not brought grief only to the Kenya Wildlife Society rangers and other conservation bodies but also to the entire Kenyan society. More over this came at a time when terror attacks on the Kenya’s Mpeketoni town are still haunting the minds of those who lost their loved ones or survived the attack. This exactly depicts the grief and sorrow that is hovering over the Kenyan society and these poachers are by no means different from the terrorists.
Amusing enough is the lack of coordinated reports between Kenya wildlife Society and other conservation bodies about poaching of the country’s wildlife. Whereas Kenya Wildlife Society’s report indicates that 97 elephants have been so far killed this year, the figure is by far smaller than the regular reports of poached elephants by other conservation bodies like Africa Wildlife Foundation. This puzzles the donors and shows lack of accountability for their funds by the Kenya Wildlife Society. The donors often donate huge sums of money to the KWS for purchase of anti poaching equipment and other gears, but this seems not to be put to better use prompting one to think that some officials may be benefiting from the illegal activity.
Worse more is the manner in which Satao was killed yet KWS and other wildlife conservation bodies were monitoring it 24/ 7. The Kenyan society is wondering what could have really transpired for this elephant to be brought down without quick notice. More investigation should be carried out in order to bring the culprits before the law and let the innocent animals get justice for their innocent death.
As these rampant killings continue uncontrolled, KWS denies that there is a poaching crisis in the country hence putting more danger to the lives of these innocent creatures. If no tight measures are taken, the African Elephant especially in Kenya may cease to exist in a near future.
The unfortunate news of Satao’s death came at a time when Kenya prepares to celebrate conservation successes at the UNEP Governing Assembly which kicks off today 24th June 2014. With subject of logic, one would wonder whether this will actually make any sense or if it is worthwhile especially at a time when the World’s largest elephant has just passed on in the hands of poachers and there is conflicting reports about the status of poaching in the country with KWS concealing the real magnitude of this poaching act. Probably, it is high time the KWS realized their responsibility in curbing this disgraceful act and probably come up with better measure to face this act if they are to proudly celebrate the conservation achievements.