One of Kenya's last big 'tusker' elephants dies aged 50

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Tim the elephantImage source, Ryan Wilkie/Save the Elephants
Image caption,
Tim was a much-loved elephant

One of the last remaining great "tusker" elephants in Kenya has died aged 50.

Tim died in Amboseli National Park on Tuesday, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). He died of natural causes.

The animal's body will be sent to a taxidermist in Nairobi so that it can go on display, KWS said in a statement.

African elephants are referred as "tuskers" when their tusks grow so long that they reach the ground.

KWS said Tim was "well known and loved throughout the country".

Tim's tusks were said to weigh more than 45kg (100lbs) each.

He was well-known in the area due to his crop-raiding habits. During his lifetime, he was speared three times.

In an effort to keep him safe and protect locals' crops, a team comprised of animal protection groups and KWS placed a collar on him. They were able to monitor him more closely and send a team to try and stop his crop raiding habit.

Once the team knew he was approaching crops, they would attempt to intercept him, although he quickly learnt to bypass them.

'Tim was mischievous'

During the first year, he made 183 attempts to enter farmlands and raid crops.

The monitoring team were able to stop around 50% of these from going any further, Save the Elephants said.

In February last year, Tim nearly died after he became trapped in a muddy swamp. However was later rescued by KWS and animal protection groups.

Former Save the Elephants field assistant Ryan Wilkie said: "Tim was a special elephant - not just to me but to hundreds, thousands of people who would flock to Amboseli just for the chance to see him.

"He was so incredibly intelligent, mischievous, yes, but also a truly gentle giant and in that way a real ambassador for his species."