A family of 12 elephants are the most recent victims of a new epidemic of poaching sweeping Kenya, and Africa.
A gang stuck the Tsavo National Park in Kenya, one of the largest elephant sanctuaries in the world, and slaughter the animals, hacking off their tusks. The incident is the worst recorded ivory poaching incident in the history of the country.
Africa Correspondent Rohit Kachroo reports. The film contains upsetting images of dead elephants.
According to the Kenyan Wildlife Service and International Fund for Animal Welfare, the trade in ivory, fuelled from Asian countries such as Japan and the rapidly prospering China, has increased to epidemic levels over the past few years.
Last year almost 34 tonnes of ivory was seized across East Africa:
- Around 34 tonnes of ivory was seized in 2012.
- Nearly 85 per cent of all ivory seized had come from or passed through East Africa.
- The number of animals that died for their tusks doubled in less than two years to approximately 360 in 2012.
The Kenya Wildlife Service said they were confident of catching the 10 poachers who are alleged to have killed a family of elephants in Tsavo National Park.
– PAUL MBUGUA, KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE
First of all, the area where it happened is some distance for them to exit the park. They will require more than a day, so we are positive. We mobilised before they exited. We are on the ground and also doing aerial surveillance.
The number of poachers has increased. There are a number of reasons for this. The prices of ivory in the black market is encouraging and has indeed attracted a lot of poachers and players.
Because the whole business of poaching and trafficking in ivory is actually a cartel and poachers are just one link of the chain.
It is unclear what the Kenyan Wildlife Service will do to the poachers if they do find them. The group said they had gunned down two suspected poachers during a shoot-out on Tuesday, January 8 in the Mlango area in Isiolo.
At least 40 poachers were killed last year as rangers battled the raiders.
Charities are calling for a return to a full ban on the sale of ivory, and for authorities to address the involvement of international criminal gangs being involved in the trade.
Greater education for consumers might also help to stem demand, according to campaign group Dirty Ivory, a survey in China showed that almost 70% of the public thought ivory did not come from dead elephants, but that it fell out naturally, like teeth.