Ivory poachers struck in Malham on Sunday night when the village's Safari mascot, Henry the elephant, was robbed of his magnificent ivory tusks.
The theft was discovered on Monday morning when the safari's elephant carer, Sandy Tod, checked out the condition of the animal which has been grazing on the village green to the delight of spring bank holiday makers visiting Malham to take part in the annual Safari Trail.
"Henry's a docile beast," said Sandy, "but naturally he's traumatised by the loss of his finest asset."
The Safari committee are appealing for anyone with information concerning the theft to come forward. It is believed that the tusks, valuable for their ivory the sale of which is banned on the open market, may have been hidden locally.
This is the second Malham Safari Trail which is held over the Spring Bank Holiday week to raise funds for the upkeep of Kirkby Malham mediaeval church, Malham Methodist Chapel and Kirkby Malham Primary School.
The safari runs throughout the bank holiday week until Sunday 13th June. Visitors are invited to follow a trail around the village and identify animals which are made and displayed by local residents.
A quiz sheet is available at a cost of £1 to identify twelve of the animals, which this year have a travelling theme, and to count the large number of spiders lurking around the village. Correctly completed quiz sheets are entered into a draw which is made at the end of the week for prizes of £100 and £50 with a special prize of £20 for the quiz sheet drawn with the correct number of spiders. Prize winners will be announced in the Craven Herald.
Last years safari proved to be a very popular day out for families and £4,200 was disbursed to the three local causes.