The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said it had increased operations to curb poaching and arrest poachers, after recording at least tree elephants and four rhinos killed in the past three weeks.
KWS spokesman Paul Gathitu said Friday that rangers would help scale up efforts to protect elephants and rhinos across the country after an apparent increase in organized wildlife crimes during the just-ended festive season.
“Efforts to track down poaching suspects are underway in several parts of the country,” he said in a statement.
Gathitu said four poachers on Dec. 20 intruded into the Ruma National Park in Homa Bay county, west Kenya, where they shot dead a black rhino and its three-month-old calf.
Gathitu said KWS security personnel responded by mounting intensive aerial, foot and vehicle patrols and raided homes of four suspects linked to the incident.
“One notorious suspected poacher was later arrested and booked at the police station. He was in possession of a cable snare (winch) and a rhino hoof. A crackdown is underway to arrest the other suspects,” he said.
He also said three suspected poachers were intercepted by KWS patrol teams in the Taita Ranches, southeast Kenya on Dec. 22. One suspect was gunned down and two elephant tusks were recovered.
The suspects killed an elephant for its tusks in the area two weeks before their arrest, according to the KWS official.
Meanwhile, carcasses of two rhinos — a mother and a calf — were found by KWS security teams at the Ngulia Sanctuary in the Tsavo West National Park on Dec. 31, when a burst of fire was reported within the park.
Gathitu said an anti-poaching operation regarding this incident was underway.
In another development, one of the two poachers, who were out to kill rhinos at the River Njoro area in the Lake Nakuru National Park, was killed in a shootout with KWS patrol teams on Thursday, while the other escaped with serious gunshot wounds, he said.
Also on Thursday, a poacher, who had killed an elephant at the Chakama area near the Kulalu Ranch, was arrested in the Tsavo East National Park, with one elephant tusk, two poisoned arrows and a bow recovered.
Gathitu further said elders of the Maasai community around the Tsavo West National Park on Friday surrendered two elephant tusks after sustained pressure and outreach efforts by KWS teams who were reported the poaching of an elephant in the area two weeks before.
The KWS has expressed concerns that the recent spike in poaching, mainly targeting elephants, lions and rhinos, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon. Enditem