By all accounts, Satao was among the most impressive animals on Earth, both for his sheer physical beauty, and for his remarkable ability to survive through decades of ivory poaching. At around age 50, the towering bull elephant had been considered by some to be the largest and oldest left in Africa, his massive tusks having grown long enough to reach the ground, sturdy and strong like the roots of an ancient tree.
But despite the pricelessness of his living form, humbling, no doubt to even the most calloused observer, Satao has succumbd to the same brutality which has already claimed the lives of untold scores of his kind.
On May 30th, conservationists at Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, where Satao had called home for the last few years, discovered the remains of that iconic elephant -- his face and tusks hacked off, his once-powerful body left to wither and rot, discarded as refuse.
"There is no doubt that he is dead, killed by an ivory poacher's poisoned arrow to feed the seemingly insatiable demand for ivory in far off countries," writes Richard Moller of The Tsavo Trust. "A great life lost so that someone far away can have a trinket on their mantelpiece."