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Suspected poacher gunned down in Tsavo, six elephants tusks recovered
Date Published: 27 Jan, 2013
One suspected poacher from Tana River County was shot dead on Friday night in one of the Taita Ranches after a fierce gun battle involving Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers.
An intensive hunt for five accomplices who escaped arrest is underway in Tsavo. Two axes, weighing scale, sufuria mosquito nets, three AK 47 rifles and 574 rounds of ammunition were recovered.
KWS director William Kiprono led a high powered delegation to the scene this morning and showed journalists the criminals' hideout. He warned poaching syndicates that their days are numbered and assured the public that the government had put all security agencies on red alert over the poaching menace.
Mr Kiprono described poaching as an assault against Kenya's national heritage and warned poachers that KWS was determined to protect and conserve wildlife at all costs.
He described the recovered items as "an armory in the hands of civilians" and "weapons of mass destruction".
The Director linked the increased poaching to criminals disguising themselves among herders in Taita Ranches, stockpiling of ivory for speculative purposes ahead of the CITES meeting in March in Bangkok and incredible demand for ivory in some Asian countries.
Mr Kiprono called on owners of private ranches like the one the suspect was killed and elephants tusks recovered to vet all herders and report suspected criminals to security agencies.
He clarified that the government had no policy to kill and gave priority to arresting suspects for prosecution in courts of law. "We are dealing with people ready to kill anybody who stands in their way."
Yesterday's killing brings to total of four suspected poachers killed in this week after the killing of three others in Shimba Hills National Park in Kwale.
The director said 2 suspects who had been arrested over the recent seizure of 638 pieces of ivory in Mombasa were arraigned in court and denied bail. Other suspects are being followed, Mr Kiprono said
He dismissed as diversionary any unsubstantiated claims of involvement of KWS staff in poaching. "The killed suspect is not KWS staff. We have internal mechanisms for dealing with any rogue employees and won't hesitate to take necessary action" he said.
Yesterday at 7pm in Naivasha, three Chinese nationals and a Kenyan driver were arrested as they tried to smuggle a dead spitting cobra out of Hells Gate National Park in Naivasha.
The suspects, who are workers of a construction company in the park, will be arraigned in a Naivasha court on Monday morning. They were booked at the Naivasha police station and are being held there.
Mr Kiprono assured visitors to the park of utmost security, saying all security agencies had been put on red alert.