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Open Letter To The Poachers Who Killed The World’s Largest Elephant

An African Safari elephant
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

To the poachers who killed the world’s largest elephant, 

I just read the report about how you murdered Satao with a poisoned arrow on May 30. My heart breaks as I contemplate the life that you so brutally butchered, thinking about the magnificent creature you slaughtered, hacking off his face and tusks, cutting free his ears, leaving nothing but a mud-caked carcass in the Kenyan bush for vultures to pick over until there is nothing left but bone.

I can’t help but wonder how you became so malicious, how you could even contemplate doing such a thing, knowing full well that these gentle giants are endangered, that their entire existence teeters on the edge of extinction. It makes me ill to think that there are people like you in this world who value money so much that you would snuff out a life just to steal a bull elephant’s enormous tusks, then cash in on your kill like some loathsome Judas.

Perhaps you don’t get it yet. Maybe you just don’t understand. But I want to tell you that you have not only committed a crime in your country, but you have also robbed the world of one of the few creatures who still fuel our imaginations and inspire us with their quiet grace. You have ripped apart a creature who was so majestic, beautiful and amazingly intelligent that we still find ourselves learning about them each year.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with two of Satao’s lovely cousins, Emily and Ruth, here at the Buttonwood Park Zoo. During my brief time with them, they amazed me by how gentle, playful and sweet they are by nature. These animals want to trust us, to communicate with us, to nurture us. They are to be protected at all costs, and yet you seem to see them as nothing more than another trophy to be mounted on the wall.

One day soon, I hope you discover what you have taken from these creatures, what you have taken from the world. I hope you weep when you realize your brutality, and that one day you will beg the heavens for forgiveness as you stare across the Kenyan vistas with the realization that the animals you poached are to be revered rather than plundered and killed. But most importantly, I hope you learn these lessons before you totally wipe out all of these gorgeous creatures.

I hope too that your actions inspire the world to take a stand against poachers like you, that they are moved to raise their voices and cry out for those like Satao who are no longer able to make a sound or even take a breath. I pray that the family of man recognizes the need to make a vow, a promise to protect our planet’s endangered animals and the wild spaces where they dwell. For only when we rise up together, with a unified front, will we be able to banish those who plunder our planet and rescue the wild kingdom we have been entrusted to protect.

Very sincerely,
Jathan Fink

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