File photo taken on July. 23, 2014 shows Mutware, one of the oldest elephants, living in the Akagera National Park, eastern Rwanda. Rwandan wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists are mourning the death of one of the country's oldest elephants, which passed away quietly at the age of 48. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)
KIGALI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Rwandan wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists are mourning the death of one of the country's oldest elephants, which passed away quietly at the age of 48.
Mutware, meaning "chief" in English, died of natural causes. It was one of the oldest elephants in Rwanda's Akagera National Park, Kayonza district, Eastern province, the park management announced Thursday in a statement.
It was an iconic elephant loved by everyone in the park and it's a great loss to park fraternity and those wildlife enthusiasts who cherished it, park manager Jes Gruner told Xinhua in a phone interview on Friday.
The elephant might have died in early August, said Gruner, adding it seems that Mutware died of old age.
According to him, there are more than 100 elephants in the park and Mutware was one of the original 26 young elephants, who were all under the age of eight years, brought to Akagera from Bugesera district in southern Rwanda in 1975.
Mutware was easily recognizable to those who knew him as he had broken his tusks years ago, according to the park statement.
Mutware, raised alongside humans, was popular with tourists, who can touch or feed him, the statement added.
Akagera National Park, located along the border with Tanzania, is central Africa's largest protected wetland and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted species in Rwanda, according African Parks, which jointly manages the park with the Rwanda Development Board.