Rangers kill poacher in fierce battle, seize two

By Renson Mnyamwezi

TAITA-TAVETA, KENYA: Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers have shot dead a suspected poacher believed to be part of a gang that has been killing elephants in the sprawling Tsavo National Park.

The unidentified poacher was killed on Saturday night in Taita-Taveta County after a fierce gun battle that also led to the capture of two unnamed poachers.

This comes at a time concerns are being raised over how poachers kill wildlife in protected game parks and private sanctuaries.

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KWS officials said they recovered a G3 rifle with 11 bullets, hacksaw and assortment of other equipment.

Tsavo National Park Assistant Director Wilson Korir said the poacher was shot dead after a fierce shootout between rangers and poachers at Kalalani area in Kitui National Reserve, a well-guarded park. “We caught up with the gang following a tip-off from the local community,” he said, adding: “Five other armed gang members, however, escaped but KWS is looking for them.”

Briefing The Standard yesterday, Mr Korir said they have intensified surveillance to dismantle a gang that has been killing elephants, rhinos and rangers in the park. Korir said poachers had killed four rangers in the recent past, an issue that has raised concern among conservationists.

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He noted that there has also been widespread subsistence and commercial poaching among other wildlife related crimes in the country.

In one of the bloodiest poaching in the country in recent times, poachers crossed into Tsavo and slaughtered 12 elephants.

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20 Elephants

Last week, Kenya Revenue Authority seized 638 pieces of ivory in a container valued at Sh100 million at the port of Mombasa.

In the past one month, 20 elephants have so far been killed in the region. Korir blamed herders from outside the region, inadequate personnel and high demand of ivory in China and other Asian countries on the escalation in poaching activities.

“We have introduced sniffer dogs to supplement the war against poaching activities in the region. We are also sensitising communities bordering parks to give authorities relevant information,” he said.

KWS officials said inadequate funding coupled with shortage of personnel was to blame for escalation of wildlife related crimes.

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KWS Director William Kiprono cited population increase as one of the factors hindering wildlife and environmental conservation in national parks.

Less Funds

Speaking to the Press in the county during a fact-finding mission, Mr Kiprono said the conservation body was being underfunded, an issue that had adversely affected conservation efforts. “We have asked for additional funds from the Treasury to enable us effectively discharge our mandate,” said the director.

 


 

SEE ALSO :KWS criticised after death of an elephant

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Kenya Wildlife Service poacher elephants