It is with a heavy heart that Mara Elephant Project announces the passing of one of our oldest collared elephants, Hugo, on December 5. Although a tremendous loss, the reward for our conservation efforts is Hugo was able to live to an old age spent in peace and pass away from natural causes rather than at the hands of malicious poachers.
Hugo was a large bull elephant estimated to be over 50 years old and was the longest continually tracked bull elephant in the Mara ecosystem. He was originally collared in 2012 by MEP and was a resident of Mara North Conservancy (MNC). Hugo was collared simply because of the size of his very large tusks and he was an extremely clever bull. Hugo would hide his large ivory in nearby shrubs if game vehicles arrived and, we like to think, stayed in MNC because he knew he’d be well protected there. He was very sociable, often found in the company of other MEP collared elephants Fred and Kegol. In July 2018, Hugo required treatment from Kenya Wildlife Service Vet Dr. Limo from the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Mara Mobile Vet Unit for an arrow shaft protruding from his stomach. Though Hugo seldomly crop raided, he came into conflict with the local community when he strayed too close to outlying homesteads. Hugo recovered fully from that operation.
MEP rangers noted that Hugo’s health had been declining in the past months and they were keeping a close eye on him for any signs of injury. MEP Tracking Manager Wilson Sairowua received an immobility alert on December 5, which led them to the scene. Ultimately, though sad, we are very comforted in knowing he passed at an age that is appropriate for large bull elephants and was able to live his long and healthy life out in the Mara.
We believe it’s safe to say, he was one of the most photographed and beloved bull elephants in the Mara ecosystem so if you have any photos of Hugo to share, please tag @MaraElephantProject on Instagram and Facebook and share your stories. We’d love to hear them!