By any measure, IR1 is impressive.
The male elephant is at least 45-years-old, appears to have suffered a serious head wound and is one of the few “hundred pounders” left roaming around Kenya’s greater Tsavo Conservation Area. He may only have one tusk, but it sweeps the ground and weighs at least 120 pounds.
The Tsavo Trust, a not-for-profit organization in Kenya, dedicating to protecting wildlife and ecosystem in the region, recently caught up with IR1 and posted a series of awe-inspiring photos. The group’s Big Tusker Project is dedicated to protecting animals such as IR1 – and future hundred pounders from poachers – with the help of Kenya’s Wildlife Service.
“He only has one tusk, however its sheer size makes up for it and he is still considered one of Tsavo’s iconic large tuskers,” the group noted on Facebook.
There are maybe 12 or so such “giants-among-giants” left in the conservation area. They are truly the unicorns among us. But for how long?
The elephant has a large depression in his forehead, which officials speculate came from fight with another elephant or perhaps a bullet hole from a poaching attempt.
And this photo, has left followers humbled, but also fearing for the animal’s life.
And their fears are well-founding. Ivory poaching could push elephants into extirpation, according to a recent report published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In just the last three years, 100,000 elephants have died, which means at this rate, African elephants could be extinct in just a few decades.
Richard Branson has now thrown his support behind the cause tweeting his support to save Africa’s giants including elephants and rhinos from poaching.
95% of world’s rhinos killed in the past 40 years. Take action & make a positive impact here: http://t.co/6tim9Z2oGL
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) November 18, 2014
Photos The Tsavo Trust/Facebook