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Armed poachers kill two KWS rangers

19 July 2013, 16:12

Nairobi - Suspected armed poachers killed two Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers in two separate gunfights while responding to a poaching incident in Kipini Conservancy in Tana River County in coast of Kenya.

KWS Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said in a statement on Friday that a poacher was also killed in one of the incidents that also saw an AK47 rifle, three rifle magazines and 208 rounds of ammunitions recovered.

"The two are the unit commanding officer and a ranger belonging to an anti-poaching unit in the area. The rest escaped unhurt," Udoto said.

He said the first incident occurred when the rangers on a patrol mission in the area encountered an unknown number of a poaching gang believed to be on an elephant poaching mission in the dense forest.

"The rangers came under fierce gun fight which killed the first ranger forcing the team to retreat. Six hours later, in an attempt to recover the body of the slain ranger, the team of KWS rangers and a reinforcement team including the Kenya Police, moved into the scene oblivious that the gang had laid an ambush," he said.

He said the KWS rangers and the police came under a second fierce gun fight which killed the KWS officer commanding the unit but it was not immediately clear whether the gang members who escaped were injured in the gun battle.

According to Udoto, a joint security operation by KWS and Kenya Police is underway to pursue and arrest the poaching gang in the area.

The latest killings bring to six the number of KWS rangers who have been killed by poachers since December 2011.

To enhance round-the-lock security at the national parks, the government has 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.

The deployment of more rangers by the KWS will help in scaling up efforts to salvage the remaining elephants in Kenya, 137 elephants and 47 rhino having been killed since January as the country continues to experience an upsurge of poaching.

The wildlife agency says it has also 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.

According to KWS statistics, over 50 rangers have so far been killed in the line of duty. On December 16 every year, KWS sets aside this day to collectively honour those who paid the ultimate price in their line of duty.

In 2011, a ranger statue was erected near the main gate of the KWS headquarters to remember, honour and celebrate the serving heroes for their commitment to the management and protection of Kenya's precious wildlife.

The statue symbolizes the efforts, courage and sacrifices of our rangers spread across the country.


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