Govt to Splash Ksh46 Million on a Statue

  • Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a visit to Maasai Mara on February 19, 2021
    Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a visit to Maasai Mara on February 19, 2021
    Najib Balala twitter
  • The Ministry of Tourism is set to spend Ksh46.5 million on a statue to immortalize Big Tim, who was dubbed a national treasure as one of Kenya's last big 'tusker' elephants.

    Speaking to the National Assembly Committee on Finance, Tourism Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala stated that the funds would be used to erect a monument at the Amboseli National Park, to celebrate the giant animal.

    Balala added that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had submitted the budget to the ministry and was under review by the Tourism Promotion Fund (TPF).

    An image of Big Tim, Africa's last Bid tusker elephant
    An image of Big Tim, Africa's last Bid tusker elephant
    Ryan Wilkie

    “The ministry has received a funding request of KSh46.5 million from KWS for the establishment of the Elephant Tim Monument. The request is under consideration for disbursement by the Tourism Promotion Fund (TPF)," Balala noted.

    According to KWS, Big Tim passed on of natural courses at Mada Area in the Amboseli National Park aged 50 years on February 4, 2020. His remains were taxidermized and preserved at the Nairobi National Museum for exhibition and education purposes.

    Tim was known for his long tusks which almost reached the ground, each weighing up to 45 kilograms. Unlike most male elephants who would break away from the predominantly matriarchal herds, he enjoyed the feminine company.

    Prior to his demise, the mammal survived several life-threatening instances. In 2018, he broke news when he got stuck in a swamp in Amboseli, which forced KWS wardens to launch a mission to pull him out of the murky waters and save him.

    In addition, he was known to be intelligent as in 2016, after being speared on his head during a farm raid, he walked to one of the conservationists to help him remove the artillery lodged in his body.

    His occasional raids in nearby farms forced the wildlife agency to put a collar on him to monitor his movements. This helped reduce the human-wildlife strife and keep him safe until his untimely demise in 2020.

    The elephant had also become popular globally, with his passing on being covered by the international media. Among those who celebrated him was renowned wildlife photographer, David Yarrow.

    "I am very saddened to hear this morning that Tim - probably the world’s most famous elephant - has passed away. This is sad news, but it is no tragedy, today we should celebrate his life and the efforts of all those in Amboseli," Yarrow wrote.

    An image of Big Tim, Africa's last Bid tusker elephant
    An image of Big Tim, one of Kenya's last Bid tusker elephant.
    David Yarrow