Klaserie River Sands

Giant elephant Satao 2 poached in Tsavo, 6 super tuskers left

SATAO 2 is dead, and another of the last tuskers left in Africa has been poached, leaving only 6 of these giants in the Tsavo Conservation Area in southern Kenya. This is a devastating blow to elephant conservation and to super tusker genes.


Satao 2 carcass, discovered with tusks intact. © Tsavo Trust

SATAO 2 was named after SATAO, the iconic giant who was poached in 2014 and was one of the largest tuskers left on Earth. A ‘tusker’ is an elephant whose tusks each weigh in excess of 100 lbs / 45,45kg. The tusks of Satao 2 weighed 51kg and 50.5kg.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers discovered the gruesome kill site before the poachers had the time to remove the tusks. Although not totally certain, indications are that SATAO 2 was killed by a poison arrow. In subsequent investigations, two people have been apprehended and weapons seized. KWS continues to work hard to rid Tsavo of poaching teams that roam the reserve.


Satao 2 © Dex Kotze

The massive 44,000 km² Tsavo Conservation Area (twice the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park) is home to the highest population of large-tusked elephants in the world, with 6 ‘super tuskers’ (of approximately 25-30 in the whole of Africa) and 15 emerging tuskers (young bulls who have the genes and potential to become tuskers). There are also 7 cows with tusks reaching the ground that are being monitored.

Elephant populations in the area crashed due to poaching from the highs of 45,000 in the early 1970’s to fewer than 6,000 in 1989. Since then the population has recovered to 11,000 (last aerial census in 2014) due to the formation of the KWS and the international ban on ivory trade – although there has again been an increase in poaching since then. For further information see our magazine issue The Silent Giants of Tsavo.


The tusks from Satao 2, recovered from his carcass by KWS rangers. © Tsavo Trust

The Tsavo Trust operates the Big Tusker Project in conjunction with KWS and focusses on aerial and ground surveillance and data capture, backed up by the KWS’ rapid reaction teams that deal with poaching incidents.

SATAO 2’s death, and the recent spike in poaching, represent a significant threat to the world’s last-remaining tuskers and to Tsavo’s precious elephant population. PLEASE consider supporting the Tsavo Trust in their brave battle to keep these elephants safe from the ruthless poaching syndicates.

Tsavo Trust CEO Richard Moller would like to see one or two of the iconic Tsavo super tuskers enjoy a Presidential Security Decree, as was the case with the famous tusker called Ahmed of Marsabit National Park in Kenya in the early 1970s. If successfully repeated, this will be a momentous achievement in conservation leadership by an African president.

The Tsavo Trust urgently requires your financial support. To find out more and donate please visit their website


Satao 2 © Dex Kotze

Africa Geographic Editorial

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

  • Iva De Lassé-Black

    Devastating news! One less precious tusker on this earth. I have no words.

    • camilla Le May

      wonder if the tusker petition might be of use….

  • Karin Bleeker

    My God where is the end in this stealing from helpless animals. CHINA rules 😣😣😣

  • Ky Ky

    Horrific…..Why don’t you remove the last takers to another site a safe zone before they become extinct?

    • Even that’s not safe. Just now a rhino was killed for its horn in a FRENCH ZOO of all places. Rhinos are shot dead in guarded preserves where the animals are tame and already had their horns removed. :O

  • Ky Ky

    Start a Shoot to kill policy NOW before its too late!

    • Dirk Nel

      They do already have a zero tolerance shoot to kill policy and the tea they are is already heavily protected. There is no area large enough for these giants to roam that can be protected well enough to keep poachers away. That is the problem

      • Ky Ky

        Well then move them to another country?

  • Cathy

    I am sick over this. How can these puny, conscienceless cockroaches be thwarted? Obviously, too many people are being born into a world of limited resources and poverty is rife. But that does not give anyone license to commit these irreversible crimes.

  • Michael Markussen

    Please do make it clear that this happend in October last year and not this month!

    • valeriemyra

      That was Satao back in 2014 who was killed on May 30, and his corpse found on June 2. He was so badly mutilated that it took nearly 10 days to confirm that it was indeed the beloved elephant.This is Satao 2, named after Satao who was just killed

    • Simon Espley

      All info obtained from the latest (January) Tsavo Trust monthly report.

      • Michael Markussen

        That Tsavo Trust report clearly says that Satao 2 was found dead on january 4th and had been dead for a while then. It is not just now or even just a few days past…

        • Simon Espley

          Indeed. So your story has changed from October to January. The Tsavo Trust report was in fact only published over this past weekend and sensitivities related to ongoing investigations prevented AG from publishing this incident earlier. Perhaps your concern is misplaced?

          • Michael Markussen

            The date 4th January is from the Tsavo Trust report that you refer to. So even your own source tells you that it did not happen a few days ago. Why not just admit you have it wrong?

          • Simon Espley

            Good heavens Michael, we are dealing with the death of an icon and you are trying to score little brownie points? The report is silent on the date for sensitive reasons beyond your ken. Get over yourself.

    • Jamie Smith

      What’s your point?

  • Carolynne Rehm

    Where is the weak link ? There is one ! Let me guess ….. on second thoughts it might get me locked up… there’ll be no peace till they are all gone. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link – tragically I conclude there are too many weak links .. adios..

  • Rubyblue212

    The people who did this should be put to a slow and painful death. Humans and their self-serving ways will be the end to all other species.

  • Jean Hughes

    tragic news

  • Phil Belinfante

    the chinese r completely behind the annihilation of every last rhino elefant tiger… they will b completely extinct in 5 years,,, PLEASE DO NOT BUY MADE IN CHINA n support them…the big tuskers have unique DNA that sets them apart from the ordinary afrikan elefant.. these last ones sadly should b airlifted evacuated out of afrika w the remaining rhinos..in 1800 some 20 million elefants , 1900 some 10 million , 1989 some 600,000 today maybe 250,000..on course 4 extinction..please dont buy chinese products

  • Maureen Jennings

    It does not matter when it happened, IT HAPPENED another terrible loss

  • Rienie Denner

    And who should we thank? All the anti’s and the aras and those who burn piles of tons of ivory in a public display and those who contributed greatly and vastly and toiled vehemently towards making the hunting ban in Kenya a reality! Thank you!!!!!!

  • Nonya Bidness

    How much proof do we need that the hunting ban in Kenya has never worked? Conservation through legal hunting, along with thorough anti-poaching measures and extreme pressure on China is the only way to save them. And STOP burning ivory!!! Sell it on the legal market to both satiate the demand and inject MUCH needed cash into anti-poaching efforts, so the elephants didn’t die for nothing.

    • Foxie Roxie-Brown

      Your a moron! Letting people hunt and kill the last remaining animals helps conservation efforts? Selling ivory from slaughtered elephants is supposed to will help discourage poaching? Ridiculous! 🙄

      • Nonya Bidness

        You people and your idiotic, puerile feelings are a real special kind of stupid. Hunting, which is strictly regulated by the government and wildlife biologists, typically harvests around 3% of the population and at an average of $50,000 a pop, it pays for a lot of conservation work. Not only that but hunting is an incentive for private land owners to preserve habitat. Not all of Africa can be a national park. The birth rate is 20%. Do the math.

        The ivory has value and the elephants are already dead. Selling the ivory on the open, legal market provides funds that can be used to DIRECTLY fight poaching. Plus it satisfies the market. Burning it has the opposite effect. Unfortunately, people like you who are all feelings and no brains have loud voices and your rhetoric is ACCELERATING the illegal slaughter. You’re blinded by your stupid feelings and never bother to engage your brain. Your emotional outbursts are completely devoid of logic and reasoning.

        • Alec Swan

          Nonya Bidness, total logic. Total simple common sense.
          You are wrong though to deride Foxie Roxie-Brown as you have. I understand your frustration, I really do but far more will be achieved by simple and factual advice, rather than being as rude as you have.
          A very well written book of meaningful value, written by a non-hunting conservationist is The Wildlife Game – by Ron Thompson. I would advise that all those with an interest acquire a copy.
          The problem which Africa’s elephants have, isn’t white hunters, but corrupt black politicians.

          • Nonya Bidness

            Maybe so but I tend to do that when I’m called a moron by an illiterate fool.

          • Alec Swan

            Yet again Nonya, I understand your frustration. You clearly aren’t a moron and your argument that to flood the market with legally held and procured ivory, thereby increasing the risk and reducing the return to those who poach, falls upon deaf ears, sadly. It seems that those who set in place the Laws also fail to see what is simple and logical cause and effect.
            Here in the UK we had a television programme about a guy who ‘Farms’ Rhino. He has horn to the value of $MILLIONS in bonded storage, locked away and should it be released and sold on the open market, the $perOZ value of the poached rhino horn, as ivory, would fall through the floor.
            Considering Ivory, were that which is procured *Legally* handed in to the authorities, and the value handed back to those who live rural lives, then they would protect their asset, those who poach would be reported, and poaching – which is indiscriminate in the extreme – would no longer be a viable business.
            Is it really as simple a fact that those who resist the legalising of legitimate ivory are doing so to protect their own financial interests?

          • MtE Boulder

            I think the ones farming it are hoping for the opportunity to sell, and are looking to protect their own financial interests.
            Also, the Asian consumer doesn’t want farmed horn. The mass market, whatever, their precious horn medicinals are actually mostly water buffalo. It’s the very rich that are driving this poaching epidemic. And they believe only the “real wild” stuff has value. They’ll be happy to get the last rhino horn or tusk into their greedy hands, and are anticipating extinction, when their investment will skyrocket in value. There is no satiating that with any amount of legal sales.

          • Alec Swan

            MtE Boulder – for some illogical reason, I get the thinking behind the perceived belief that the wild-stuff works better than the farmed, but what I don’t understand is how anyone would know the difference.
            John (Pondoro) Taylor who hunted for a living and wrote on the subject, admitted to having a little ground rhino horn in his tea, in the mornings. Taylor wrote well and wasn’t (generally) given to flights of fancy, so I can’t explain further what many would consider as a dotty belief.
            Do you believe that flooding the market place with farmed rhino horn, or Gov. owned ivory would have a negative effect, in any way?

        • MtE Boulder

          There are valid arguments by accredited scientists on both sides, no need to be insulting just because you disagree.
          I would argue that it is impossible to protect wildlife from the corruption and greed on your side of the argument. “Control” on paper does not translate to reality. Think the most famous case of Cecil.
          A very real concern scientist have with hunting is that it weakens the gene pool of populations already under extreme pressure. Hunters want the strong and beautiful animals, they won’t pay that money to shoot a sick mangy lion. So the mangy lion is the one who gets to reproduce.

  • Margaret Woodall

    They should be shot, no excuse, a beautiful creature taken for greed. China has a lot to answer for in the cruelty that abounds in this world.



  • Omar T Fahnbulleh

    Its time that Poachers face the death penalty. This is the only deterrent.

  • Make D

    Incredibly sad beyond words!!!! Such a majestic animal ruthlessly slaughtered for his ivory, the Chinese government needs to step up and the rest of the world needs to put pressure on them to stop this insanity. Killing so some useless ivory trinkets can be carved as a decoration. It is nothing short of complete insanity. Send the poachers to jail and throw the key away.

  • UnReconstructed_Rebel

    Declare open season on poachers. Poachers poaching poachers. Manhunters seeking the thrill of a kill will put poachers out of business forthwith.

    Furthermore, to stop Rhino poaching, randomly poison some Rhino Horn and sell it. After a few deaths of rich buyers, demand will die off, literally.

Africa Geographic