[QODLink]
Africa

Kenya hunts for armed elephant-poachers

Wildlife rangers are searching for poachers in what officials say is the worst elephant killings in three decades.
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2013 17:18
Corpses of a group of elephants, including a two-month old baby, were found with their tusks removed [File:AFP]

A family of eleven elephants have been killed in Kenya in what officials say was the worst such incident in the past three decades. 

"We have not lost as many elephants in a single incident since the early 1980s," said Patrick Omondi, head of the elephant programme at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Tuesday. "This is a clear signal that things are getting worse."

The corpses of the elephants, including a two-month old baby - all with their tusks hacked off - were found on Saturday in south-eastern Kenya's vast Tsavo East National Park.

Rangers were tracking the poachers in "hot pursuit" but had so far not caught the gang, the Kenyan wildlife rangers said. 

"Our initial investigations show that the poachers numbered at least 10 and were armed with an assortment of guns," Omondi said. 

The poachers whose weapon of choice is an AK-47 assault rifle, he said.

Officials say that an increase in demand for ivory in Asia, where elephant tusks are used in traditional medicines and to make ornaments, has led to a substantial increase in the killing of elephants in Africa.

In 2012, Kenya lost approximately 360 elephants to poaching, a figure that rose from 289 the previous year, KWS said. At least 40 poachers were killed last year as rangers battled the raiders.

Last week officials in Hong Kong seized more than a tonne of ivory worth about $1.4m in a shipment from Kenya.

Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is due to hold its next meeting in March, a date that Omondi says has in the past triggered a rise in poaching.

Africa is home to an estimated 472,000 elephants whose survival is threatened by poaching and habitat loss.

297

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
join our mailing list