World mourns legendary elephant ‘Mountain Bull’ killed by poachers (Kenya)


Barry Ellsworth, All Voices

Date Published
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Mountain Bull, the legendary six-ton elephant who became the face of the illicit poaching-for-ivory crisis in Africa, has been discovered dead in Kenya, CBS reported Friday.
The tusks of the 46-year-old bull elephant had been ripped out and his body, thought to have lain in the Mount Kenya Forest for eight days, had visible spear marks, the Mirror reported.
The kill occurred despite the fact that Mountain Bull was the symbol of the Save the Elephants charity and was fitted with a GPS tracking device so that campaigners for the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy project in Northern Kenya could account for his whereabouts and re-establish a traditional elephant migration route that had been bottled up by human development.
A Lewa spokesperson mourned the loss of a national symbol.
“Mountain Bull’s death is a great loss to the conservation fraternity,” the spokesperson said, the Mirror reported. “He taught us much about elephant and animal behavior, migration routes and patterns, and to a large extent, left many inspired by his bravery and resilience.”
CBS News and CBS “Sunday Morning” did features on Mountain Bull and in reporting his demise, said that “the manner and place of his death is shocking and deeply disheartening to conservationists and Kenyans.”
Mountain Bull was a troublesome elephant – ripping apart fences was his specialty – but he was also a great explorer and would strike out from the cool forests of Mount Kenya during the wet season and roam in undiscovered country to the north.
He had huge, perfectly matched tusks and in an effort to protect him from poachers, Mountain Bull was captured and, while he was in an anesthetic slumber, veterinarians with the Kenya Wildlife Service chain sawed the ends of his tusks in October 2012.
It was hoped the removal of the 22 kilograms of tusks would also reduce Mountain Bull’s penchant for the destruction of fences.
But in the end, despite being tracked day and night and confined to a fenced national park and World Heritage site, the poachers won.
On the Save the Elephants Facebook page, the tears were almost palpable as the news of the legendary elephant’s death was posted.
“We are devastated to report that Mountain Bull has been found dead,” the post on Facebook said, accompanied by his picture. “Here he is in his prime. RIP, Mountain Bull.”
The big bull’s death underscores just how devastating poaching is and that the fight to stop the world trade in illicit ivory is far from over, despite countries destroying confiscated stocks of elephant tusks.
France became the first European country to grind up and destroy 698 tusks in February 2014, The Guardian reported.
The previous month, China destroyed six tons in a bid to discourage poaching, Fox News reported.
France also hosted a global summit convened to tackle the $19 billion-a-year illegal wildlife trade.
It is big business, and for more on the illicit market, The Guardian has a story on the 10 things you need to know about elephant poaching.
The money also goes to finance terrorists, reported the Washington Times, so it will be a long hard battle to save the elephants of Africa from extinction.