A Giant of the Plains

Published on the 5th of February, 2020

Our hearts are heavy as we remember a magnificent elephant who we grew to know and love.

Share the article

An elephant bull of 51 years old, who called the Amboseli ecosystem home with his preferred haunt the Kimana Sanctuary. Tim became a household name admired by many Kenyans and tourists alike. He sadly died on the 4th February 2020, and while there is evidence of his wild friends trying hard to resurrect him, his lifeless body was found in the morning not far from the Kimana gate. Dr. Poghon was called to the scene to ascertain the cause of death but with no external injuries visible, except only hyaena marks evident, it is assumed he died of natural causes. His body is to be transported to Nairobi for taxidermy so that he might forever preside over the Nairobi National Museum of Kenya, and his memory never dims.

Tim lived a life that saw him become an icon for his species. Photographs, videos and stories focusing on this grand old boy have been taken and told for years and with that, he has helped influence the world’s understanding and attitude towards elephants. He was a daily reminder that we share this earth with giants who are more impressive and far more beneficial to the health of the planet than we can ever hope to be.

Tim had his fair share of run ins with humans over the years and three times Dr. Poghon of our SWT/KWS Veterinary Unit came to his aid, treating him for arrow and spear wounds inflicted by humans and helping two years ago in a mammoth combined effort to extract him from a swamp where he’d become completely bogged up to his chest in 2018. Tim it seemed was living on borrowed time, and by reaching 51 years of age has had a good innings when one considers that he managed to survive the rampant poaching of elephants for their ivory that took place in the late 70s and early 80s, and then again between 2009 and 2013, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of his kin across Africa.

To think that his great feet will no longer tread the Amboseli volcanic dust, nor will his impressive tusks be gazed upon in wonder and awe is hard to comprehend. His sheer presence commanded respect, and he was certainly one of Kenya’s great treasures. We can take comfort in the fact that Tim has been sowing his seed for decades and with the wild spaces saved, protected and nurtured, there will be more Tim’s in the future.

Tim was more than an elephant, he was a beacon for his species and to honour him we must continue to work hard in protecting those he leaves behind, including his ever present friends and companions who it appears tried hard to save him when he finally fell and who must today be so heart-sore losing their irreplaceable friend.