We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Sarara, one of the most beloved and famous resident bull elephants in Samburu National Reserve, northern Kenya. The carcass of the 32-year-old wild bull, who was in the prime of his life, was discovered to the south of Buffalo Springs National Reserve. His tusks were intact and recovered by the Kenya Wildlife Service, and we suspect that he was the victim of conflict in an area known as the Attan Swamp. Conflict between humans and elephants worsened in northern Kenya during the drought, but Sarara’s death came after rain. Large numbers of elephants had congregated in the Attan Swamp due to the fresh, lush grass.
A year ago, Sarara needed urgent medical attention after he was speared. That time he was treated for his injuries and recovered quickly, gaining enough strength to make it through Kenya’s crippling drought. This time, however, his luck tragically ran out and his life was brought to an abrupt end. Sarara was a curious, lovable elephant who kept us on our toes during his frequent visits to our research camp. From sauntering through our carpark, using our trees as scratching posts, walking off with our tracking collars, and breaking our walls in his exuberant efforts to reach acacia trees, his antics captivated everyone, visitors and film crews alike. Our hearts are heavy with the news of Sarara’s death and he will be hugely missed.
Save the Elephants’ Director of Field Operations, David Daballen, says, “Sarara’s death is a harsh reminder of the challenges we face as human-elephant conflict escalates across northern Kenya. One in five elephant deaths in the north are now caused by conflict with people. We believe that Sarara may have been shot. He was in an area that is lush and green after the rains and a favorite place for elephants to congregate. At this stage, we are unsure of the motives behind his killing, but are working with Kenya Wildlife Service and talking to local communities to get a better understanding of the situation.”
Watch this short film created a year ago after Sarara was speared, which we think serves as a fitting tribute to his magnificence.
Photos by Jane Wynyard and Gilbert Sabinga / Save the Elephants