Feb. 6 (UPI) — Tim, one of Africa’s last remaining big tusker elephants — often fondly called Big Tim — has died at the age of 50, Kenyan wildlife officials said.
The Kenya Wildlife Service said on Wednesday the bulky elephant who for decades roamed the remote wilderness of southern Kenya and survived wounds inflicted by poachers died of natural causes a day earlier at his home in Amboseli National Park.
Born in December 1969, Tim lived longer than his handlers expected, as big tuskers are often poached for their ivory before they’re able to pass on their big-tusked genes to offspring. Tim’s tusks were so large they nearly touched the ground as he walked.
Dr. Paula Kahumbu of Wildlife Direct, who tracked him for years, described him in a tribute as “probably the biggest tusker in Africa.”
“He was incredibly friendly, he was one of the very rare elephants who had so much confidence that he didn’t think any human being was a threat to him,” Kahumbu told NPR.
Tim was injured by a poacher’s spear six years ago and nursed to health by a group of wildlife officials. After the injury, Kahumbu led an effort to put a tracking collar on him and create a wildlife corridor to keep humans away from him.
A taxidermist will prepare the elephant’s body for preservation and exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.
“Tim brought so much joy to so many people. I know at least one person whose purpose in life was a quest to meet Tim. He had no shortage of humans who worshiped him,” Kahumbu added.
“Rest In Peace Tim, the most majestic elephant that I have ever met.”