Safari in Africa: two rangers and bull elephant killed


By Natalie Paris, The Telegraph

Date Published

Dexter Chilunda was believed to have encountered two poachers in the middle of the Liuwa Plain National Park, one of who shot him at close range with a shotgun.

“A wife lost her husband, four children are without their father, and we lost an outstanding colleague who was passionate about conservation and deeply committed to the protection of wildlife at Liuwa,” said Peter Fearnhead, the CEO of African Parks, which runs the reserve.

“We will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. Dexter Chilunda’s untimely death is a testimony to the sacrifice of people, like him, who are willing to make every effort to keep Africa’s last remaining wilderness areas safe.”

Police have issued a reward to help catch the culprit.

Another experienced ranger was killed earlier this month in Kenya. Ltadamwa Lardagos was shot in an ambush by a gang of cattle raiders on May 11. Information from villagers in the area led to the capture of the suspected gunmen that evening.

Poachers in Kenya were also responsible for killing a bull elephant on Mount Kenya near the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the same week. Mountain Bull, a 46-year-old elephant, was considered to be incredibly important by conservationists there.

He had been given a GPS-enabled collar that allowed conservationists to track his migration across Samburu, Lewa, Ngare Ndare and Mount Kenya. This information was used to open up an elephant corridor through the region, used by more than 2,000 elephants.

He was also involved in raids on local farms however, which taught conservationists a great deal about the conflicts between humans and wildlife in the area.

When Lewa’s co-founder Ian Craig noticed that Mountain Bull’s position had not changed for a few days, a search was mounted and the elephant was found dead in the Mount Kenya Forest, missing his tusks and with visible spear wounds on his body.

Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton OBE, founder of Save the Elephants, is giving a lecture on behalf of the charity TUSK in London tomorrow. He will discuss how, though there is little sign that the elephant crisis is easing, there is “real hope”, with the political momentum for change building, and a global coalition coming together to turn the situation around through anti-poaching, anti-trafficking and reducing the demand for ivory.

Brian Jackman, the Telegraph’s safari expert, described the events as the latest in the “on-going tragedy of Africa’s wildlife”.