The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has struck back hard this week with 2 unrelated incidents leaving 6 elephant poachers dead. It’s a sure signal that despite the internal issues in the senior management the service is committed to protect wildlife in the country’s parks and reserves.
2 shoot-outs leave 6 poachers dead.
The first incident last week 3 poachers were killed during a shoot-out with park rangers and police. The police were able to recover 3 firearms and 140 rounds of ammunition. The shoot out occurred not far from Mount Kenya.
During last week the KWS also made over 20 arrests of suspected elephant poachers and seized guns, ammunition, cars, snares and a range of other equipment included poisonous arrows.
The second shoot-out with poachers took place this Tuesday in the Tsavo East National Park. Three poachers were killed and 1 escaped. The KWS were able to seize 3 AK-47 rifles and 80 rounds of ammunition.
Could Kenya have lost 2,000 elephants last year?
These latest incidents come at a time of when a Kenyan eco-tourism organisation contributed to an article in a national paper that 2,000 elephants a year were being poached in Kenya. This lead to the arrest of the organisations CEO Kahindi Lekalhaile last week.
He was arrested under the charge of ’undermining the authority of a public officer’ (the KWS Director) though the KWS have refuted that they had anything to do with the arrest. EcoTourism Kenya though claims that Mr. Kahindi’s statement was “…written in the presence of KWS officers and and the occurrence book record attest to and confirms Kahindi’s arrest, interrogation and detention related to a complaint by the KWS Director, Dr Julius Kipng’etich about Mr. Kahindi’s published opinion.“
Head of eco-tourism group arrested.
Ecotourism Kenya still agrees with Mr. Kahindi that last year saw one of the worst episodes of ivory poaching in recent times, which may have resulted in the death of hundreds of elephants throughout the country. The gravity of the problem cannot be underestimated. KWS claims that over eight tons of ivory on illegal transit were intercepted in Kenya; there is a possibility that a lot more tonnage was trafficked unnoticed by the wildlife authority. Wildlife poaching was reported frequently in 2011 by KWS, community conservancies and locally-based conservation organizations.
Many NGO’s and conservationists in Kenya were shocked at the decision of the KWS boss to call in the police following the publication of the article about poaching in Kenya.