By Derrick Kiplagat
Two suspects have been arrested in connection to the killing of five elephants at the Tsavo West National park according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). According to KWS communications manager Paul Udoto, the two suspects were tracked to a manyatta it the Ndoomani area of the Loitoktok sub-county.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has said they recovered the carcasses of an adult female and four other young elephants at the Losoita area on Tuesday afternoon.
Paul Udoto affirmed that the suspects are believed to be from Tanzania and a part of a gang of four who operate along the Kenya- Tanzania border with the help of some locals. The two are said to have made off with the tusks using motorbikes. An axe handle, a bloody axe, akala shoes(sandals) and a hacksaw were recovered from the pair at the manayatta.
Udoto added that a manhunt for the rest of the suspects had been launched after gunshots were reported on Monday evening. The operation involves both the Kenya police and the Tanzania wildlife authorities, he added.
The killings comes almost four months after three elephants were killed at the Tsavo East National park on March 13th, when President Uhuru Kenyatta burned over 15 tonnes of ivory marking the World Wildlife Day. This was followed by another death, when an elephant was shot in the hind leg with a poisoned arrow.
The last five years have seen the worst poaching in Kenya since the 1980’s. Early this year, KWS Director General William Kiprono reported that 47 elephants and five rhinos have been lost through poaching in 2007 alone, 384 elephants and30 rhinos in 2012 and 302 elephants and 59 rhinos in 2013. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has reported that Africa used to be home to an estimated 500,000 elephants but has since been losing an estimated 30,000 of the precious animals annually.