Press and Media
June 19, 2014
Frank Pope - COO
Kenya’s last remaining Great Tuskers received a boost as Save the Elephants presented the Kenya Wildlife Service with a new Toyota Landcruiser vehicle modified and equipped as an anti poaching vehicle dedicated to their defence.
Less than a hundred of these impressive elephants are thought to survive in Africa today. Defined by their vast tusks (a Great Tusker is one whose ivory weighs more than 100 lbs or 45 kgs a side), these iconic animals are highly sought after by both tourists and poachers. Tsavo, Kenya’s largest protected area network, is one of their last remaining strongholds on the African continent.
The vehicle was handed over to the Director of KWS at a ceremony at KWS Headquarters at 10am on Wednesday 18th June 2014. The donation was made possible by the Elephant Crisis Fund, and has been deployed with the help of the Tsavo Trust. The Kenya Wildlife Service have confirmed that the vehicle will be tasked with the defence of Tsavo'’s large elephants.
“The Great Tuskers of Tsavo are truly one of Nature’s wonders. Kenya is one of the last places in the world that such magnificent creatures still exist, and we must do all we can to ensure their survival. To lose these individuals and the genes that made them great would be a tragic outcome, and we are proud to support the Tsavo KWS anti-poaching team,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, CEO of Save the Elephants.
Earlier this month news broke that one of the biggest bulls in Tsavo, a male in his forties named Satao, had been killed by poachers with a poison arrow. His death had come hot on the heels of another famous elephant, Mountain Bull, who was killed by poachers in the Mt. Kenya region. Other than Tsavo, the only other places in Africa that still boast elephants with such spectacular ivory are the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique and the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
“Satao represented what an elephant should be, and his death has shaken us all. We need to defend Tsavo’s remaining tuskers from the air and on the ground, and we are proud to be working closely with the brave rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service in this task,” said Richard Moller, Chief Conservation Officer of the Tsavo Trust.
“The Tsavo ecosystem covers an area of about 4% of Kenya’s total land area and is home to about 33% of the national elephant population (11,000 elephants)... The ecosystem’s elephant population is however faced by poaching challenge due to its expansiveness,” said KWS Acting Director General William Kiprono. “The challenges posed by poaching has made Kenya Wildlife Service partner with Save the Elephants and the Tsavo Trust. The vehicle will be used to undertake anti-poaching patrols within the Tsavo ecosystem.”
Save the Elephants estimates that an average of 33,000 elephants have been killed annually during the ongoing ivory crisis. The Elephant Crisis Fund, established jointly by Save the Elephants and the Wildlife Conservation Network, supports projects in the realms of anti-poaching, anti-trafficking and of reducing demand for ivory.