Iconic Tim the elephant, one of Africa's last big 'tuskers', dies aged 50

One of the last big “tusker” elephants has died in Kenya aged 50.

Tim died of natural causes in Amboseli National Park on Tuesday night, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has confirmed.

The iconic elephant’s body will now be transported to the capital for taxidermy so he can preside over the Nairobi National Museum of Kenya.

Tim the Elephant has died aged 50 (Picture: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)
Tim the Elephant has died aged 50 (Picture: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

KWS said in a statement: “Tim was always welcome to travel in the company of females and their families. He was unassuming and laid back.

“A benevolent slow-moving preserver of the peace at Amboseli, he was well-known and loved throughout Kenya.”

Elephants become big tuskers when their tusks reach the ground.

There are now fewer than 20 big tuskers roaming the plains of Africa.

Tim died in Kenya of natural causes (Picture: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)
Tim died in Kenya of natural causes (Picture: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), which helped save Tim from a swamp in 2018, said in a statement: “Kenya lost a giant today. Our hearts are heavy as we remember a magnificent elephant who we grew to know and love.

“An elephant bull of 50 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 last night, 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.”


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Tim, whose tusks reportedly weighed more than 45kg (100lbs) each, managed to survive a few scrapes with poachers over the years and was treated three times for arrow and spear wounds inflicted by angry farmers.

As he approached 50 last year, conservation charity Big Life Foundation paid tribute to “one big elephant”.

“Tim has since come to represent all of the different values, positive and negative, that humans place on an elephant’s life,” the tribute read. “To poachers he is a target, to farmers he is a costly nuisance, to tourists he is a marvel, and to conservationists he is a symbol of hope that our efforts are working.”

The DSWT said: “To think that his great feet will no longer tread the Amboseli volcanic dust, nor will his impressive added 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 Tims in the future.”