• James Watatua

Ahmed, the Great Tusker.

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

The story of Ahmed, the Great Tusker.

The majesty of the African Elephant is fascinating, captivating and heart-gripping at the same time. We

grew up watching them strut along the electric fence set up by the Kenya Wildlife Service just across the

road from my grandmother’s farm, patiently chewing on shrubs, in endearing power of their immediate

environment, so calm, almost harmless.

The one tusker now resting peacefully, deep in the hearts of Kenyans, is Ahmed. Maybe it was the way

he stood in all his glory in the forests and scrublands of Northern Kenya, with his long white tusks

glistening in the African Sun, the longest and heaviest pair on any elephant in the continent (each tusk

weighed 68kgs.). Maybe it was the way his skin, brown like brass, reminded us of the nostalgic aroma

when the rain hits the soil after a dry season. Sometimes it must have been that feeling of fear that his

tusks had made him a golden target for poachers and trophy hunters who were notoriously wiping the

continent of its elephants throughout that decade. It could easily have been his celebrity status earned

from movies and documentaries made about him by world-renown filmmakers.

In 1970 children from schools across Kenya went into an adorable letter-writing rampage in a successful

bid to get the Founding Father of the country, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, to give Ahmed state protection in

that era of increased poaching. Hundreds, probably thousands of little beautifully colored letters

must’ve flocked his mail box because eventually the President complied and declared Ahmed a living

monument and provided him with presidential protection; five armed game rangers 24/7. The state

protection kept him alive and he died peacefully of natural causes at age 65, though an autopsy on his

body later would reveal antique bullets lodged in different parts of his body; an indication that the

children were onto something.

Ahmed, on display at the Nairobi Museum, Kenya.

Satao, the only other elephant with tusks close to Ahmed’s size was killed by poachers later, in 2014.

David, one of our master carvers, is an artist creating wooden artifacts of elephant heads to tell the

story of the African elephant and to capture the essence of their natural features; their ears, big and

flappy, tusks, long and beautifully and their trunks – which are actually a fusion of their nose and upper

lip. Africans have co-existed with them in the wild and in our farms since the beginning of time to date.

You just need to drive down major grasslands, in National reserves, or perhaps you could sit under the

mango tree in my grandmother’s farm any cool afternoon and you will see one pass by.

Even easier, please visit our website for more information on the wooden elephant head piece and find

out how our cause is supporting David’s craft.

#bantuafrica #handmade #celebrateafrica #wildlife #conservation #independence #empowerment

58 views0 comments