Satao the World's largest elephant killed by poachers


For Immediate Release
June 16, 2014


Cyril ChristoBlatant Killing of One of World’s Largest Elephants Is Crime Against Both Mankind and Nature and Should Serve As Critical Wake-Up Call to Humanity

Santa Fe, New Mexico/Kenya – Even as American conservation photographers Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson are in Kenya shooting new footage for their documentary “Walking Thunder: The Last Stand of the African Elephant,” the announcement came that Satao, possibly the world’s largest elephant, had been killed by poachers within Kenya’s Tsavo Conservation area.

“This is a crime beyond description, almost beyond words,” said Cyril Christo.  “These massive creatures – these intelligent, loyal gentle giants – have been massacred almost to extinction and we keep thinking that mankind will come to its senses and stop the insanity of poaching before the only elephant our children and our children’s children will ever know are named Dumbo and Babar and exist only in fairytales.”

The massive bull elephant known as Satao, believed to have been more than fifty years old, had extraordinarily large tusks which made him a prime target for poachers.  The value of an elephant killed by poachers lies only in their ivory tusks – the dead animals are usually left, otherwise intact, at the kill site – and it’s believed that the giant bull elephant was not found and identified for a period of time following the crime.

Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson have spent nearly two decades chronicling loss of wildlife, natural habitat and indigenous cultures across the globe and the resulting photography has resulted in exhibits, gallery shows and four critically acclaimed books.

Besides their photographic contribution to G.A. Bradshaw’s “Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us About Humanity,” Christo and Wilkinson produced “Walking Thunder: In the Footsteps of the African Elephant,” “Lost Africa: Eyes of Origin,” and “In Predatory Light: Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears.”

Christo and Wilkinson, a married couple, reside in Santa Fe, New Mexico when they’re not among their beloved elephants in Africa. After seeing firsthand the dwindling populations among the very herds they photographed from year to year, the couple decided to devote themselves to international outreach on behalf of the massive creatures.

In 2011, they debuted a 27-minute short film entitled “Lysander’s Song” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Named for their son, the mini-documentary featured interviews with native tribal members, primarily in northern Kenya, on topics such as climate change, globalization, and life among the disappearing elephants.

Their current project, a documentary film tentatively titled “Walking Thunder: The Last Stand of the African Elephant,” is nearly complete in its filming and the couple were wrapping up some final work in Kenya when news of Satao’s slaughter was released.

“The death of every elephant is to be mourned for they are a symbol of wonder, of trust and should be revered for their wisdom,” says Christo, “but the brutal killing of Satao within a protected conservation area must be made to count…it must serve as a rallying cry for all of humanity to say ‘we are fools and enough is enough.'”

Note to Media:  A limited number of interviews (in English, French or German) are available with Marie Wilkinson and Cyril Christo while they’re overseas.

For editorial having to do with African elephant conservation and protection efforts, images from Christo & Wilkinson Conservation Photography’s archives can be made available in JPG format and in both low-res and high-res format.

Image requests and interview requests should be directed to:

The Zephyr Group
(505) 466-2770

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