4 suspected poachers killed in central KenyaSouce:Xinhua Publish By Thomas Whittle Updated 15/04/2013 7:11 am in World / no comments
NAIROBI, April 14 — Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers have killed four suspected poachers while others escaped with injuries in Isiolo, eastern region.
KWS Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said on Sunday the suspected poachers were gunned down in a shootout at Ngare Ndare forest within Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a renowned and dedicated rhino sanctuary late on Friday.
“The rangers were on patrol when they encountered the gang of five men within the sanctuary. The suspects had been ordered to surrender but they opened fire at the rangers,” Udoto said in Nairobi.
He said a shootout ensued leaving four members of the gang dead, noting that their accomplice escaped with injuries. “KWS rangers were not hurt in the early evening shoot out,” said Udoto.
According to the KWS manager, G3 rifle, seven rounds of ammunition and assorted poaching weapons were recovered.
He said the police from Isiolo have visited the scene of crime and are helping with further investigations while the accomplice who escaped with injuries is being pursued in the adjacent areas.
The incident comes after the government announced plans to deploy 1,000 more rangers to beef up wildlife security efforts to curb rising incidents of poaching across the East African nation.
Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki said the deployment of more rangers by the KWS will help in scaling up efforts to salvage the remaining elephants in Kenya, 74 elephants having already been killed in the first 3 months of 2013 alone.
“KWS is modernizing its force with the support of the government. We intend to fight poachers at all levels to save our elephants,” he said on April 6 in the latest anti-poaching measures the East African nation has taken amid dwindling wildlife population.
The wildlife agency has enhanced the round-the-clock surveillance at all Kenya’s entry exit and entry points while sniffer dogs and their handlers have proved incorruptible and have once again outsmarted the smugglers.
The East African nation says it’s at a point where it cannot allow further poaching of wildlife because the animal numbers have been reducing at an alarming rate.
Most recent statistics from the KWS for instance indicate that the number of elephants for instance has reduced from a high of 160,000 in the 1970s to below 30,000.
KWS said between the 1970s and the 1980s Kenya lost over 80 per cent of her elephants, mainly due to intensive poaching of elephants for ivory.
Also affected are the Black Rhinos whose number declined from 20,000 in 1970 to current 577, putting it under the category of “critically endangered” animal.
Lion is also one of the most endangered animals not only in Kenya but across Africa. Kenya has an estimated 1,800 lions, down from 2,800 in 2002. The country had 30,000 lions in the 1960s, KWS data reveals.
Kenya lost 289 elephants to poaching in 2011 and another 384 elephants in 2012.
There have been fears that the illegal trade for the wildlife parts has led their being priced high making them attractive to transnational criminals who mostly prefer dealing in high value commodities.