Who is Ahmed the elephant? Google Doodle celebrates figure

Who is Ahmed the elephant? Google Doodle celebrates figure

Google is on Wednesday honouring the first giant tusked elephant to be protected under presidential decree in Kenya by providing a doodle.

The elephant, Ahmed, was born in 1919 in the forests of Mount Marsabit, Kenya and came to attention in the 1960s when he was spotted by hikers in the North Kenya mountains. They called him “The King of Marsabit".

The spotters claimed Ahmed’s tusks were so large they scraped the ground and the legend took hold across the nation. Though seldom seen, he was known well by reputation, and people knew his tusks were so long that he could only climb hills by walking backwards.

These tusks were 150 pounds each, making them the heaviest and largest in Africa.

In 1970, Ahmed's popularity grew and coincided with projects to protect the elephant from poachers. This cause led to the launch of many television projects, including an ABC series and a documentary.

The rise in pop culture inspired school children to campaign for him and they wrote to Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta. Ahmed was subsequently placed under protection by presidential decree, with security around him heightened.

To preserve his life, two guards were appointed to watch over the elephant day and night in Marsabit Park until his death at 55 in 1974. The guards found his body one morning after he never returned once disappearing behind bushes.

President Kenyatta ordered taxidermists to preserve Ahmed for future generations at the Nairobi National Museum where he can still be seen today.

The son of the Kenyan photographer Mohamed Amin, Salim Amin, said of his father's experience with Ahmed: "I remember my dad telling me how they were charged by Ahmed as they took what turned out to be the last pictures of the King. They had been following him on foot all day and, when his patience with them eventually ran out, he charged the camera team.

"My father and his colleague Peter Moll were running away and decided to run on opposite sides of a huge tree, not realising they were still attached together by the sound cables and Peter was whipped back around the tree narrowly missing the giant tusks!"