The Star (Nairobi)

24 October 2012

Kenya: Tsavo Park Loses 50 Elephants

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Elephant in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

More than 50 elephants have been killed at the Tsavo conservation area this year, the Kenya Wildlife Service has revealed. Most of the elephants were killed at the Galana and Taita ranches which border the park.

Acting KWS assistant director in charge of the Tsavo conservation area, Michael Wanjau, said poaching incidents had increased this year compared to the previous years.

"Poaching has escalated in the Tsavo conservation area this year following increased number of livestock and herders from other parts outside the region," he said. Wanjau also blamed the poaching on illegal possession of arms by members of the public especially the herders.

"The problem of small arms in Kenya is also a problem. We have managed to recover 11 guns since the operation to protect elephants was launched in March," he added.

Wanjau said seven suspected poachers have been killed while two KWS rangers have been killed by poachers and their guns taken. He said they have recovered 1,000 bullets from the suspects.

Wanjau said they are working with the provincial administration to control herding in the area. "We have established security stations in the ranches where we also carry out anti- poaching operations on a daily basis," he said.

Wanjau said the fight against poaching in the area has become more complicated because poachers have changed poaching tactics. "They are now using poisoned arrows instead of guns, which easily attract the attention of security personnel," said Wanjau.

He also attributed the escalating poaching to lack of enough rangers in the conservation area. "We only have 400 rangers in the Tsavo, which covers about 22,000 square kilometers.This number cannot cover all parts of the vast region," he said.

He said KWS has arrested three suspects in connection with the recent killing of eight elephants at Galana ranch in Tsavo East "We recovered two G3 guns from them," he said.

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