Sunday, June 15, 2014

One of the World's Largest Elephants Falls Prey to Poachers in Kenya

Satao, who was known to hide from humans for many years, was recently killed by poachers for his ivory tusks.

Africa has been experiencing some of the worst rates of poaching regarding its elephant and rhino populations. Almost every week, incidents of such bloodthirsty activities make headlines with recent examples such as the slaughter of nearly seventy elephants in Garamba National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of these incidents was also reported in Kenya, where a bull elephant named Satao was poisoned to death by poachers. Satao, who was most likely born in the 1960s, was known for adapting his behavior to hide from humans for many years and was reported to have tusks weighing over a hundred pounds. He died of his wounds from poison darts in an isolated corner of Tsavo National Park, where he had migrated in search of fresh water after the recent storms. A British documentary filmmaker named Mark Deeble, who had spent a long time filming Satao, told how the elephant would move from one bush to another in order to keep his tusks hidden indicating that he was aware of the danger of ivory-poaching. In addition, Tsavo Trust's Richard Moller, who had been monitoring Satao for several months and confirmed his death on May 30, called him "an icon". The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has recorded the slaughter of 97 elephants this year so far, but experts contradict the official figures. One of the key figures disputing the figures is conservationist Richard Leakey, who denies that the number of elephants killed in Kenya has declined. He also described the poaching epidemic in Kenya as a "national disaster" and that poachers were conducting their illicit activities with "outrageous impunity." Furthermore, he noted the port city of Mombasa as a "staging post" for ivory trafficked from countries across the region. Earlier this month, police in the city confiscated more than 200 elephant tusks weighing 4,400 pounds in a warehouse charging two men in connection with the haul. According to Mombasa County commissioner Nelson Marwa, the confiscated ivory was linked to drug lords and terrorism.
Park rangers stand near three of the nearly seventy elephants slaughtered in Garamba National Park.

The poaching epidemic affecting Africa's elephant and rhino populations has reached astronomical levels. That is, despite the concerted efforts to halt any such activities, the war is still raging and the bloodbath is still increasing. Satao, who was often referred to as "an icon", was one of the recent victims of this epidemic along with the nearly seventy elephants ruthlessly massacred in Garamba National Park. People from all around the world, including the countries where the demand for ivory, rhino horns, and other wildlife is rife, need to refrain from importing and purchasing such merchandise in order to help conservationists and authorities put a stop to this ongoing wildlife trade. Furthermore, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is linked to terrorism. In other words, these two environmental threats help finance terrorist groups such as the Al-Shabaab, Janjaweed, and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to carry out their bloodthirsty work of massacring countless numbers of innocent civilians. In addition to people, poaching and the wildlife trade have and continue to affect the local economies of African countries especially when poachers continuously slaughter animals in various national parks that are known to benefit from tourism. As long as the poaching epidemic continues to affect national parks and other protected areas in Africa, it would impact the tourism industry which in turn would affect the local economies of various African countries. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to step up the coordinated efforts to combat this ongoing epidemic and stay one step ahead of the poachers and other operators of the wildlife trade.

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