02-11-2022 by Leni Frau
May the land of the savannah be mild to the oldest elephant in Tsavo East who left his homeland to join, as the elders of the Taita tribe say, the devil's powder.
Dida, a magnificent specimen of "Big Tusker," died at the venerable (for elephants) age of 60 or even 65, the Kenya Wildlife Service reported.
According to the KWS release, Dida, a female and "matriarch" as they say for historic tusker leaders, died of natural causes.
"We are saddened to learn of the death of Dida, who was perhaps Africa's largest female Tusker and a matriarch living in Tsavo East National Park," the statement said. "She died of natural causes due to advanced age, having lived a full life until she was about 60-65 years old.
The KWS described her as a true Tsavo icon and a great repository of decades of knowledge. Thousands of tourists have filmed and photographed her, not knowing her name and age, but have been able to admire her dignity and majestic gait, like the way she protects her family.
"Those who knew her through photos and videos and those who had the exquisite pleasure of meeting her in person will remember her." Writes the KWS.
"Tuskers" are defined as older elephants whose tusks are so long and heavy that they touch the ground. Usually this record belongs to males, but Dida has achieved with his "status" many colleagues of the opposite sex. Tuskers are also highly coveted by poachers, which is why their lives are always at risk.
Conservation experts estimate that there are only a few dozen such animals left on the continent due to poaching. Few reach Dida's age.
In 2014, a famous large tusker, Satao, was killed by poachers in the park with a poisoned arrow, sparking worldwide outrage. Satao II, named after him, was also killed by poachers in 2017. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), poaching has seen the African elephant population plummet by 110,000 in the past 10 years to just 415,000 animals. Tsavo is home to about 12,000 elephants, the largest population in Kenya.
Fighting against poaching and the international ivory ban are yielding their fruits: in three years the number of elephants in Kenya has increased almost 15 percent (14.7 for precision).
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