Big Tim, Kenya’s giant ‘tusker’ elephant dies at 50

ONE of Kenya’s last giant ‘tusker’ elephants, Big Tim has died.
He was 50
Big Tim who was regarded as a ‘national treasure’ in the country died in a national park from natural causes, wildlife officials have said. According to a statement by the Kenya Wildlife Services ( KWS), he died in Mada area of Amboseli National Park due to natural causes.
The giant tusker’s carcass was found at the foot of the snow-capped peak of Mt Kilimanjaro, the Amboseli Trust for Elephants said.
“The celebrated elephant died early on Tuesday morning aged 50,” read the statement published by the KWS which also described him as “a benevolent, slow-moving preserver of peace at Amboseli”.
He was well known and loved throughout Kenya and conservationists have expressed sorrow over his death. “Our hearts are broken,” said Wildlife Direct, a Nairobi-based conservation campaign group. “Tim was one of Africa’s very few Super Tuskers and an incredible elephant whose presence awed and inspired many. He was one of Kenya’s National Treasures.”
An elephant is technically a “tusker” when its ivory tusks are so long that they scrape the ground. Usually, only old bull elephants grow their tusks long enough to reach this acclaimed status. But conservationists estimate only a few dozen such animals with tusks that size are now left on the continent due to poaching. Animals with the biggest ivory and elephants with the heaviest tusks are most at risk from poachers.
Tim was named by researchers who called each elephant in the family herd they were monitored by the same letter to help identify them; Tim was a member of the “T” herd.
The giant mammal once roamed outside the national parks into farming lands and had survived poachers and angry farmers.
Vets once treated him for a spear that had gone through his ear and snapped off into his shoulder.
Big Tim’s body is being transported to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where a taxidermist will preserve it for display at the national museum, KWS said.
Poaching has seen the population of African elephants plunge by 110,000 over the past 10 years to just 415,000 animals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Al Jazeera