You may remember the elephant bull, Satao, who was killed by poachers in Tsavo National Park in May of 2014. Satao’s death sparked international outrage because he was one of the very few “big tusker” elephants left in the wild. Unfortunately, Satao’s massive tusks meant he was a prime target for poachers. Seemingly, this brilliant elephant knew his tusks put him in danger as he was known to hide them behind bushes when people walked by.
And now we have even more heartbreaking news. Satao 2, an elephant named after the giant Satao, has been poached, leaving only six of these amazing big tuskers in the Tsavo Conservation Area in southern Kenya. Big tuskers are classified as elephants whose tusks each weigh in excess of 100 pounds – around 45 kilograms each. Satao 2’s weighed 51 kilograms and 50.5 kilograms.
Kenya Wildlife Service rangers found the horrific kill site of Satao 2 before the poachers had time to remove the tusks. Although not confirmed, it seems like Satao 2 was killed by a poison arrow. Thankfully, local authorities have apprehended two people for the crime, but the loss of this elephant speaks to the larger threats facing elephants. Every day, 100 elephants are poached for their ivory and if nothing is done to stop this, it’s estimated that elephants will be extinct from the wild within the next 20 years.
Although an international ivory ban was instated in the 1980s to preserve dwindling elephant populations, Satao 2’s death illustrates the looming threat to big tuskers. The trade in elephant ivory is still permitted in many regions of the world if the ivory pre-dates the ban. However, with the ability to counterfeit documents that certify the age of ivory, it is extremely difficult to discern new ivory from old. With this in mind, park rangers play a vitally important role in stopping rampant poaching and protecting elephants. Understandably, this is no easy job.
The pressure of safeguarding Tsavo’s last remaining elephants falls on rangers, who are literally putting their lives on the line to protect endangered animals. Tragically, over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the past 10 years. Tsavo Trust CEO Richard Moller has called for a Presidential Security Decree, that would protect the park’s last remaining big tuskers, but in the meantime, existing park rangers are tasked with keeping up protections.
Knowing the danger these brave men and women face daily to protect the world’s elephants, we could all stand to show our thanks. Please sign this quick petition in Satao 2’s memory to thank game rangers for the hard work that they do. It’s the least we can do for the future of big tuskers – and all elephants.
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