Serengeti — FOUR suspected poachers have been shot dead by game rangers in Serengeti National Park (SENAPA) allegedly after killing elephants, police reported on Sunday.
Police in Simiyu region confirmed that four people were last week gunned down by rangers at Mlima ngoma area inside the world famous park and about 100 kilometres away from the villages located near the park.
"Bodies of the deceased that have not been identified are still preserved in Bariadi district hospital", Simiyu Regional Police Commander (RPC) Assistant Commissioner of Police)ACP) Salum Msangi said.
SENAPA rangers recovered a sub machine gun (SMG), 367 rounds of ammunitions, as well as traditional weapons that included knives and machetes after some shootings."They also found an elephant killed by poachers at the scene and they were in the process of removing tusks", the regional police chief said.
The rangers were prompted to open fire into the scene after they heard unknown people firing into them from the area."After hearing sounds of bullets the rangers followed up and started firing into the scene where they killed the four poachers ",RPC Msangi explained.
It was until Sunday not clear whether there were poacher who escaped from the scene, according to the RPC.Rampant killings of elephants by poachers looking mainly for tusks has become a major concern in the country's conservation sector in the recent months.
SENAPA is said to be one of the country's national parks which has been badly hit by ivory tusks poachers.It is estimated that an average of 1,500 herbivorous wild animals are killed by poachers in the park every year despite on-going efforts made by the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to curb the vice via the authority's anti-poaching department.
Apart from elephants, other mostly targeted animals are, black rhinos, zebras and wildebeests. Two black rhinos imported from South Africa and received by President Jakaya Kikwete a few years ago have also been possibly killed by poachers while on the watch of the park rangers.
The country's second largest park covering 14, 763 square kilometres has over 200 armed rangers
mainly tasked to fight poaching and other illegal activities in the park.