Joseph Soltis, Disney's Visiting Researcher

Date Published

After crossing the Ewaso Ngiro River into Samburu country, one of the first elephants we saw was a bull named Philo. He was very recently named, as he was new to the area. It was a good omen, I thought at the time. But this encounter was to be the first and final time I saw him alive.

Four days later he was dead in the middle of the Buffalo Springs Reserve, killed there near dawn. In place of his tusks — chopped out and taken away — were six bullets left behind: Three in the neck and shoulder where the poachers first shot their target; and three in the head, execution-style, as they came to finish him off. The photo, taken by Ike Leonard, was perhaps the last photograph taken of Philo before he was felled by poachers’ bullets. Philo was cut down before reaching prime age, cut down before he was able to live out his magnificent elephant life.

Male African elephant

Estimated age: 18 yrs.

Name: Philo

Cause of death: multiple bullet wounds during poaching event (Jan 27, 2013)