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Killing of iconic elephant highlights problems with poaching

20 May 2014, 16:53 Joseph Njung’eh

Nyeri - An enigmatic elephant bull whose dedication to using the traditional elephant migration routes in Northern Kenya led to numerous conservation initiatives was found dead in Mount Kenya forest over the weekend.

The 46-year-old elephant popularly known as Mountain Bull was killed by poachers who ripped off its tusks.

"The carcass had visible spear wounds and missing tusks. It is estimated that Mountain Bull had been poached eight days before, indicated a release from Lewa wildlife conservancy.

Mountain bull had been fitted with a GPS-GSM enabled collar, enabling it to be tracked while traversing the Samburu, Lewa, Ngare-Ndare and Mount Kenya landscapes.

Its disappearance was discovered by Lewa co-founder, Ian Craig who noticed that the elephant had been immobile since its collar had not emitted any signal from the last reported position in Mount Kenya.

The release added that no other animal has had greater impact on wildlife conservation in Northern Kenya than Mountain Bull.

"Many credit him as the force behind the construction of the pioneering Lewa/Ngare Ndare Forest/Mount Kenya elephant corridor that links the forest ecosystem of Mount Kenya with the savannah ecosystems of Lewa and Samburu plains further to the north, added the release.

This led to the opening up of the traditional migration route of over 2,000 African elephants that had previously been blocked by human development in Mount Kenya.

However, Mountain Bull was often involved in cases of human-elephant conflict, opening gates and raiding farms that lie on these elephant routes.

The numerous incidents highlighted the issue of human-wildlife conflict in the country and enabling conservationists to develop mitigation strategies.

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