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  • Elephants are seen in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, June 15, 2019.

    Elephants are seen in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, June 15, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 February 2020
Opinion

An elephant is technically a "tusker" when its ivory tusks are so long that they scrape the ground.

Kenya has lost a celebrated male elephant aged 50 years old that used to roam in the country's southeastern plains neighboring Tanzania, authorities said on Wednesday.

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Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said the iconic elephant named Tim-the Big Tusker died on Tuesday at Amboseli National Park and its remains will be preserved at the national museums for exhibition and education purposes.

"Big Tim is one of Africa's last big tusker elephants that roam in a vast and remote wilderness of southern Kenya," KWS said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The wildlife management agency said the elephant, whose gigantic tusks were an instant draw to local and foreign tourists, had earlier suffered head injuries after a huge rock hit it.

"Kenya Wildlife Service in collaboration with partners sedated and treated him, and then he found his way back to the Amboseli marsh family in a fairly short time," said KWS.

It said that Big Tim blended with the female counterparts with ease despite established norms that dictate solitary life for males when they reach sexual maturity.

"Tim was always welcome to travel in the company of females and their families. He was unassuming, unpretentious, and laid back," said KWS.

"A benevolent and slow-moving preserver of the peace at Amboseli, he was well known and loved throughout Kenya," it added.

Kenya has one of the highest elephant populations in Africa estimated at 35,000 in the latest census, and the government has enhanced protection of the iconic land mammal amid threats like poaching and shrinking habitat.

Out of a population of 34,000 elephants, 69 were killed by poachers in the country in 2018.

While the threat of poaching is undeniable, animals are also being affected by habitat depletion, climate change, and disease. Half of all individual animal populations have been devastated to the point of extinction in recent decades.

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