Elephant Bulls Survive First Poaching War, Not Second
Satao and Mountain Bull, two of Kenya’s most famous and longest-living elephant bulls, are latest victims of today’s brutal poaching war
In May, two of Kenya’s most revered elephant bulls succumbed to poachers, their ivory tusks ferried away while their carcasses lay rotting in the sun inside two of Kenya’s national parks. Believed to be more than 40 years of age, Satao and Mountain Bull each survived the poaching wars of the 1970s and 1980s, only to be cut down last month as the latest war on Africa’s elephants rages.
“Satao and Mountain Bull were one of us; they were Kenyan,” says African Wildlife Foundation’s senior director of conservation science, Dr. Philip Muruthi. “To lose these national treasures in the span of one month is devastating. It also galvanizes us in the conservation community and as Kenyans to work harder at protecting what belongs to this nation and this continent and penalize those who are robbing us of our heritage.”
Though Mountain Bull had been partially de-tusked by rangers in a 2012 operation and regularly tracked by radio collar, and though Kenya Wildlife Service kept tabs on Satao’s movements through aerial patrols, neither bull could be kept safe from the crude instruments that ultimately claimed their lives. In early May, poachers trespassing in Mt. Kenya National Park attacked Mountain Bull, not with AK-47s, but with spears. A few weeks later, poachers in Tsavo East National Park took down Satao with a single poisoned arrow.
“In a matter of minutes, and with nothing more than spears and arrows, a magnificent 6-ton being can be wiped out forever,” says Muruthi. “Mountain Bull and Satao might be gone forever, but we are working now to ensure their offspring and kin remain and endure.”