One of Kenya’s most luscious green ecosystem and national park tragically turned into a morgue when rangers discovered 12 elephants of a family butchered by poachers last weekend. The tragedy occurred at Tsavo East National Park and included the killing of adults as well as baby elephants.
The Kenya Wildlife Service says that an entire family of African elephants died in a gunfire on Saturday. The poachers chopped of the tusks of the animals and fled with none of them caught by the rangers. It is however believed that the gang comprised of 15 members.
Tsavo National Park is believed to be Kenya’s pride with 13,000 elephants living in this huge ecosystem.
On discovery of the massacre the rangers discovered bodies of mothers, baby calves, older siblings and other adults spread on the jungle floors. The spot is so remote that it is inaccessible by road vehicles and even by foot according to NBC News whose reporter surveyed the location on a helicopter.
It is one of the bloodiest attacks on elephants in Kenya by poachers till date.
In spite of the territorial difficulty, it is thought that the poachers planned their attack beforehand, by trekking the location for days and weeks and observing the jumbo family.
Armed with guns and axes, the 15-strong gang struck on Saturday morning. They first shot the elephants and used the axes to chop of the tusks. The rangers did find their trails and followed footprints for 10 miles but the trail soon vanished. The investigators also believe that the poacers might have left the tusks in hiding in the park before splitting up and disappearing.
Wilson Korir, who leads the military-style defense force tasked with protecting the park from poachers, said to NBC News,
“These guys [the gang of poachers] are now looking for some crude transport like the use of a donkey to be able to transfer the tusks to the nearest center where they can ferry it using a vehicle.”
“We have a lot of covert operations going on outside. We have positioned a platoon of rangers outside there just to wait and see. If they appear they will pounce and arrest.”
From the position of the bodies, the investigators also believe that the elephants could not run away because there was a stampede.
According to the country’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 360 elephants were killed in Kenya last year – almost one a day – up from 289 in 2011.
The high death rate is due to the demand of ivory for decorative purposes as well as for medicines in China. A pound of illegal ivory can fetch around $1000.
“The dynamics of poaching are taking a different angle altogether because there is a lot of demand for ivory from outside,” Korir said.“But in the history of Tsavo National Park this is the worst. The message is clear. They come (back) into the national park at their own peril. The rangers are there and waiting for them. They come and they will be eliminated.
“These are dangerous gangs. They carry firearms. There are no two ways about it – fire for fire. So let them come. We are equally prepared achat cialis ordonnance. We are waiting.”
If the beginning of the New Year brings such sad news for elephants, it is time that the rangers do get prepared to ensure that the brutality does not get repeated ever again.