The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Two Poachers Killed in Narok

TWO suspected poachers were yesterday shot dead by Kenya Wildlife Service officers in Narok North district. KWS Narok Senior Warden Benard Koruta said the poachers were killed after a shoot-out with rangers Koruta said an AK47rifle, 65 bullets and axe were recovered from the poachers who were living in a cave in the forest.

He said the rangers were acting on tip-off from members of the public that the poachers have killing elephants. "One was killed on the spot while the other escaped but the officers combed the forest and gunned him down," said Koruta. He said that the herd boys have met them several times and reported the matters to the relevant authorities.

The KWS officer said that the four poachers are on the run and they are pursuing them. He said that that in the last two months, three elephants have been killed in the area. He thanked the locals for working hand-in- hand with KWS which led to the successes in combating wildlife crime. KWS chairman David Mwiraria said that they will soon get sophisticated guns to fight poachers in national parks. "Poaching is now a serious threat to the survival of wildlife. If not checked, it will kill the multi-billion tourism industry. We will purchase equipment like sophisticated guns, vehicles besides others to end poaching that has been rampant in our parks," Mwiraria said.

He said that the increase of poaching activities can be blamed on high demand of ivory and other wild animals' products in foreign countries. KWS senior assistant director in charge of endangered Patrick Omondi called for review of penalties on poaching in bid to end the illegal activities. Omondi said that the offenders should get high fines, or jail terms without the option of a fine.

Omondi said it is embarrassing to see the culprits still enjoying freedom yet they have drastically reduced wildlife species. "The culprits should be fined not less Sh5 million or a five-year jail term without an option of fine. The current one is weak and promotes poaching," said Omondi. Siana Wildlife Trust chairman Sammy Nkoitoi called for concerted efforts between Narok county council, KWS and police in the Maasai Mara to end poaching which has the potential to kill tourism in the area.

He said that the 1980s poaching which saw a decline in elephant and rhino population in the park was returning slowly. Nkoitoi said that poaching for elephant tusks in the Mara-Serengeti region in the recent past across the border was on the increase. He said that there was need to take quick and decisive measures to curb the poaching that is geared towards reducing the animal population.

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