The world has lost an iconic and beloved tusker elephant. Satao, an elephant known for having tusks so long they touched the ground, was killed by ivory poachers in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park after roaming the grounds for at least 45 years, reports Daily Mail.
The Tsavo Trust had been tracking the elephant’s movements via aerial reconnaissance for the last 18 months, but that was not enough to keep poachers from killing the animal with a single poisoned arrow.
Wildlife officials say they found Satao’s body with two large holes in place of tusks, reports CNN. His carcass was badly mutilated and authorities had a difficult time identifying him at first.
Tsavo Trust issued a statement on Friday about the incident: “Satao is dead, killed by an ivory poacher’s poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries. A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece. Rest in peace, old friend, you will be missed.”
Satao was one of Africa’s last “great tusker” elephants, reports Forbes. Poachers reportedly shot him on May 30 and then cut off his face and stole his tusks. His body was found on June 2, but representatives at the Tsavo Trust say they wanted to confirm the elephant was Satao before alerting the public.
Satao’s impressive tusks weighed more than 100 pounds and could easily be spotted from the air. Although he spent his life roaming around the inside of the park, he recently relocated to the boundary of the park, where fresh water and vegetation were more abundant. Satao was reportedly one of the biggest reasons why thousands of tourists visited the Kenyan park each year.
The legendary elephant is one of thousands that international wildlife regulators say have been killed in recent years to benefit an illegal ivory trade that continues to flourish in many countries, including the United States, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Armed rebels in Africa are also reportedly selling the tusks in exchange for arms and ammunition.
At this point, those responsible for killing Satao have not been apprehended.