30 May 2013

Kenya: KWS Launches Hunt for Rhino Poachers

THE Kenya Wildlife Service is worried by the rate at which poachers are killing elephants and rhinos.

The conservation body is even more worried that poachers have penetrated protected areas in search of the much valued elephant tusk in the Far East.

This is the reason why, KWS spokesman Paul Mbugua yesterday said the issue is mind boggling and that the organization has now mounted a major operation in pursuit of poachers who killed four rhinos last week across the country.

Mbugua said the paramilitary wing of the KWS personnel and those in intelligence will work together with community agents in mapping out the hide-out of those believed to be running a cartel of poachers.

He spoke as the KWS leadership has indicated that community workers and guards Kenya Wildlife Service has mounted a major operation in pursuit of poachers who killed four rhinos in the last one week across the country.

The spokesman said security teams are following crucial leads and expect to catch up with the perpetrators of the heinous crime. The rhinos were killed in Lake Nakuru National Park, Solio Ranch (Nyeri), Ngulia Sanctuary (Tsavo West National Park), and Meru National Park. The poachers took off with the rhino horns.

Since the beginning of the year, Kenya has lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to poachers. Out of these elephants, 37 were killed in protected areas while 80 were outside protected areas. These numbers include last week poaching incidents.

Last year, Kenya lost 384 elephants and 30 rhinos to criminals, a worrying trend that is not sustainable.

KWS Director William Kiprono was recently quoted in the press as having said community rangers would be issued with guns to help in fighting poaching that had spiraled across the country.

Kiprono announced that the Service through the KWS Board of Trustees in collaboration with the Kenya Police Service is in the process of requesting for the issuance of firearms to the community rangers in a bid to strengthen their capacity in handling poaching.

Of all the national parks across the country, Tsavo appears to be in the lead on the number of death directed at elephants. In the past two weeks, 11 elephants aged between 35 and 40 years were slain at Mbale and Kalonzo ranches in Tsavo while eight carcasses were last week found by rangers in Ndara.

In all the slain elephants, tusks had been cut and taken away by suspected poachers.

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