13 July 2013

Kenya: Poachers Change Tack From Guns to Arrows

The Kenya Wildlife Services has raised alarm over the increased poaching of elephants using poisoned arrows in Tsavo region.

KWS assistant director in charge of Tsavo Conservation area, Robert Obrien said that the poachers had changed their tactics from using guns to using poisoned arrows.

Speaking during a Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association workshop in Voi, Obrien said that at least three to four elephants are treated from injuries incurred from poisoned arrows each week.

"Poachers have now changed their tactics from using guns and are now using poisoned arrows.They mostly target the elephant legs because they know an elephant cannot walk on three legs thus easier to bring it down.We appeal to community members to help us in the fight against poaching," he said.

Obrien said that four elephants have been killed through poisoned arrows in the last two months in Tsavo.He added that only one elephant had been gunned down at Dawida ranch two weeks ago.

"Four elephants have died while undergoing treatment from poisoned arrows.The elephants are shot outside the protected areas.This is the biggest challenge we are currently facing in Tsavo," he said.

Obrien pointed out Mackinon,Sagalla ,Maungu and along river Voi as the areas where the cases have mostly been reported.

He appealed to Taita ranchers to convert their land to conservancies so that they can benefit from tourism income from the wildlife around them.

"Come up with conservancies in your ranches.Move in and settle in the ranches instead of leasing them to outsiders where you get little benefits.Scouts in these conservancies will be recruited from the communities around and this will help us fight the poaching menace," he said.

Taita Taveta ranchers association chairperson Mcharo Bong'osa said that they are coming up with management plans for each ranch in order to start conservancies.

"Time has come for us to plan and manage the ranches in the best way possible so that we can embrace tourism," he said. This comes at a time when one of the oldest elephants was found dead at Ngutuni sanctuary in Voi on Wednesday evening.

The male elephant aged between 45 to 50 years was shot with a poisoned arrow on its left foot. The elephant is among the few oldest giants that remain in Tsavo East.One of its tusk weighed more than 45 kilos.

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