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Poachers kill two rhinos in northern Kenya

19 November 2013, 15:59

Isiolo - Two rhinos were killed in northern Kenya in two separate incidents in the past three days amid a spike in poaching activities in the northern region, wildlife officials confirmed on Tuesday.

A black rhino was killed by poachers at highly protected Lewa Downs Conservancy in Isiolo, northern Kenya. Poachers invaded Lewa Downs at midnight on Sunday in and sprayed bullets before removing the tusks from the rhino, leaving the security officers shocked.

Another rhino was killed at Ol-Pajeta Ranch in Laikipia within the same circuits in the region.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) County Warden Michael Gichure said the poachers managed to escape despite hundreds of officers having been deployed to track them with the boost of choppers and intensified surveillance.

Gichure said Lewa security officers and the KWS were using sniffer dogs to track the suspects in the region and neighboring villages where the footsteps were found last evening.

"It's a double tragedy because the rhino had a very young kid that has now been left wondering around leaving it vulnerable to poachers," the warden told Xinhua by telephone on Tuesday.

KWS said rising demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia has caused a poaching crisis in recent years across Kenya in particular and Africa as a whole with over 1,000 rhinos having been killed on the continent in the last 20 months.

Kenya has also lost 21 rhinos and over 120 elephants to poachers since the beginning of 2013. Out of these elephants, KWS said, 37 were killed in protected areas while 80 were outside protected areas.

Last year, seven rhinos were killed by poachers in the larger northern circuit forcing the security officers to upscale the patrols and address the cartels behind it.

Isiolo County Commissioner Wanyama Musiambo regretted that the killings of the rhino at Lewa Down Conservancy were a great blow not only to the county but Kenya at large.

He said several rhinos have been poached within the protected areas and wondered how the suspects managed to sneak through the areas to carry out their activities.

Musiambo warned poachers within the larger Isiolo county that their days are numbered and that the security agents will not relent into anything but arrest and prosecute them.

He said the suspects once arrested will be paraded all over the town in order to shame them before they were prosecuted in the court of law.

"We are going to come up with coordinated security intelligence on their hide outs in order to arrest the suspects and charge them in court of law," he added after visiting the scene of the incident where poachers had gunned down the rhinos.

Musiambo attributed the killings to increased demand for trophies and asked the policy makers to address the challenges facing wildlife in order to promote tourism.

He also attributed increased poaching due to high market demand for ivory adding that drought, climate change and lack of pumps and signs along Isiolo-Moyale highway were also causes of decrease in recent animals' census.

- Xinhua


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