‘Mama's boy’ elephant Edison, 37, dies in Samburu

Wildlife enthusiasts suspect Edison fell victim to the tragic rise of the human-elephant conflict in Samburu and other parts of Africa.

Photo credit: Alice Clark/Save the Elephants

An iconic elephant bull, popularly known as Edison among conservationists and tourists, has died in Samburu.

Scientists from Save the Elephants, a research and protection organisation, announced the 37-year-old pachyderm’s death.

Wildlife enthusiasts suspect Edison fell victim to the tragic rise of the human-elephant conflict in Samburu and other parts of Africa.

Edison’s carcass was found in Westgate Conservancy in Samburu, northern Kenya.

“Investigation into the cause of Edison’s death continues,” the wildlife lobby said in a statement.

Researchers revealed that Edison was born into the 'Royal' family and quickly became famous among researchers and scientists since his teenage years.

The statement goes on to describe the elephant bull as “a mama’s boy” because he frequently returned to visit his family, even after moving out.

“Since he was a teenager, Edison was a feisty wild bull and quite the mama’s boy too. Most bulls venture out for a life of their own when they are around 10–12 years old, but when Edison dispersed, he kept coming back to visit his family on and off for the next couple of years,” Save the Elephants said.

In musth to find mates

By analysing the data from Edison’s GPS tracking collar, researchers were surprised to discover that while the adventurous bull spent much of his time travelling north to far-flung places, he would always return home to Samburu National Reserve when in musth to find mates.

Edison was collared by researchers from Save the Elephants to help in tracking and monitoring his movements.

Edison’s death is the third loss of a Samburu bull elephant within the span of one year.

In 2022, bull elephants Sarara and Yeagar were killed in a suspected conflagration with herders.

Sarara was a majestic bull and one of the most beloved and famous resident elephants in Samburu National Reserve. He became a victim of conflict between humans and elephants, which worsened in Samburu during a prolonged drought.

In 2021, before his death, Sarara was speared by unknown individuals and sustained injuries that needed urgent medical attention. He was treated and recovered quickly, gaining enough strength to make it through crippling drought that ravaged Samburu County.

The carcass of the then 32-year-old wild bull, who was in the prime of his life, was discovered to the south of Buffalo Springs National Reserve.

Just like humans, elephants can die far earlier than their old age due to natural causes or from human-related activity such as poaching.

Save the Elephants has been observing and studying the lives of elephants for more than three decades, gaining fundamental insights into how they behave and make decisions.