Among the Elephants Blog

In memory of Hakim
August 19, 2002
by Ann-Kathrin Oerke, STE guest researcher



On the 16th of August 2002 we lost one of our most beautiful and gentle elephant bulls, HAKIM, a 30-35 year old male that had just gone through his first musth period. The vets had to put him down because unknown people had fatally shot him two days before, as Lugard and I were just next to him!

On the 16th of August 2002 we lost one of our most beautiful and gentle elephant bulls, HAKIM, a 30-35 year old male that had just gone through his first musth period. The vets had to put him down because unknown people had fatally shot him two days before, as Lugard and I were just next to him!

On the morning of 14th August, Lugard and I drove out west to look for four of our collared elephants. We found Picasso and HAKIM under some acacia trees. Lugard saw HAKIM suddenly turning around, away from us, and then we both heard a shot! We looked back and saw HAKIM stumbling twice. Lugard shouted: “Quick, they are shooting HAKIM, next they will shoot us since we saw it! Do not stop, go! Go!” so we raced out as fast as we could. We had no time to look back to the bull; we did not know whether he was dead or alive.

We found HAKIM the next morning not far from where he had been wounded. He was standing next to the river, cooling himself with water. He was not able to use his left front leg at all. The leg was completely swollen and looked twisted. He tried to put all his weight on his hind legs and was gently swaying from pain, eyes half closed. He did not attempt to move away from us, when we approached him.

HAKIM died 2 days before I had to leave the Samburu Elephant Research Camp. He had to be put down. Over the last two months he had become my favorite bull. We met him frequently since he liked to associate with the collared bulls. He was always friendly to us and never showed any aggression. He was also the one who came into our camp the very first night I stayed in the bush. He was a huge bull, towering over our tents in the bright light of a full moon whilst feeding on the Acacia trees over the tents. This is one of the most impressive pictures I take back home in my memory.

P/S by: Njoki Kibanya, Administrative Assistant

After this most unfortunate killing of Hakim, the County Council which was outraged requested the community to help in hunting down and turning in the killer. He turned out to be a young warrior who had obtained an illegal gun which he wanted to try out. He had been warned against shooting Hakim by the other warriors but he did not take heed. The community turned him in and he has been jailed for nine (9) years - 5 years for illegal possession of a gun and 4 years for killing an elephant. Even if that will not bring Hakim back, at least one feels that justice has been done and we hope this will dissuade other poachers from killing more of our elephants.


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