By Drazen Jorgic
12 July 2014
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Two armed gangs killed four rhinos for their horns in rural Kenya this week in possibly the worst rhino poaching incident in the country in more than 25 years, the spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Friday.
Poaching across sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise as armed criminal gangs kill elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns, usually to be shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines.
The poaching on Wednesday night took place at the private Ol Jogi ranch near Nanyuki, about 200 km (120 miles) north of Nairobi.
Paul Muya, a spokesman for KWS which has overall responsibility for wildlife in Kenya, told Reuters the rhino bodies were found on two separate sites on the 58,000-acre ranch and the poachers escaped with three of the animals' eight horns.
One conservationist said the Ol Jogi raid was the worst poaching incident in Kenya since five white rhinos were killed in one swoop in Meru Park in 1988. Muya said he also believed it to be the biggest attack since then.
"They’ve got high levels of security there, so the implications are that really rhino are not safe anywhere," said the conservationist, who did not wish to be named.
The killings take the number of rhinos poached in Kenya so far this year to 22, which leaves just 1,037 rhinos still roaming private wildlife conservancies and KWS national parks, Muya said.
Last year, 59 rhinos were poached in Kenya, a country famous for its sprawling Maasai Mara game park and abundant wildlife. [more]