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The Tsavo ecosystem in Kenya has lost its sixth Elephant to poachers in a week.
According to a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesperson, the Elephant was seen by a group of tourists with a badly damaged leg, which KWS wardens believe was caused by a poachers’ snare.
KWS and vets from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust attended to the Elephant but were unable to save it, and had to put it down.
The death of this Elephant follows the poaching of another five elephants last week in the same area.
In that incident, KWS wardens found four poached Elephants whose tusks had been removed, while the fifth still had its tusks intact.
Kenya has seen a rapid decline in the Country’s Elephant population over the last decade. According to William K. Kiprono, the current Director General of KWS, 2011, 2012 and 2013 saw levels of poaching that exceeded those in the 1980’s, when the then KWS Director General, Richard Leakey instituted a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against suspected poachers.
At a press conference held in February in Nairobi, Kiprono said that 384 Elephants and 30 Rhinos were killed in 2012, while 302 Elephants and 59 rhinos were poached in 2013. Poaching, however, appears to have declined in 2014.
Kiprono said “But we are glad that we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to concerted efforts by many stakeholders. Last year, only 164 elephants and 35 rhinos were poached representing about 47 per cent and 40.7 per cent, respectively, representing a significant decrease from previous years. While these figures are indicative of the success of our concerted efforts, they still represent damage to our wildlife capital. Furthermore, a total of 50 firearms and 616 rounds of ammunition and 5 tonnes of ivory were recovered during 2014. During the year, a total of 1,430 suspects were arrested and prosecuted for various wildlife law offences.”
Last week, the Kenyan Government made a commitment to destroy all stockpiles of ivory that it held by the end of 2015.
The first stockpile of 15 tonnes was burnt in a ceremony in Nairobi on March 3rd by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to celebrate World Wildlife Day .
In a speech at the ceremony, President Kenyatta said: “In order to underline our determination to eradicate poaching, my Government shall burn the rest of the stockpile within this year. We hope the rest of the world will follow our action in the same manner”.
Kenyatta added: “The destruction of confiscated elephant ivory by itself does not put an end to the illegal trade. However, coupled with the seizure of ivory and prosecution of offenders, it sends a powerful message that Kenya does not accept and will not tolerate this illegal trade or the devastating impact it is having on the African elephant and on the livelihoods of rural communities”.