Kenyan Prime Minister asks for international help to curb poaching menace

Some of the slaughtered elephants lie on the ground Credit: ITV News

I can show you what it looked like, but I can’t tell you what it smelt like as flies swarmed and maggots ate away at the corpses.

It seems that the family of elephants had tried to race away as bullets started flying. But none managed to escape.

One mother lay where she fell next to her daughter. Nearby, in the baking heat, were the bodies of three siblings; half a mile away there were another five corpses.

Others were scattered over several acres. In all, 12 lay dead.

To get to the scene of Kenya’s worst ever attack by poachers, we couldn’t drive. We had to fly by plane, then helicopter.

So imagine the determination and the planning of the gang of 17 poachers – murderers – who had travelled by foot to kill the family of elephants, one by one, in Saturday morning’s massacre.

They must have trekked for several weeks to get to the spot, setting up camps, shielding themselves from the spotter planes which regularly fly overhead.

They almost certainly had access to local knowledge.

These are big-time gangsters who have started a lucrative process which will almost certainly end with someone in the Far East.

It may be a man who feels that his sexual performance is about to improve with a bag of ground tusk, or a homeowner hoping that a new ivory centrepiece will add something to their living room.

But thanks to China’s growing middle class, the demand for tusks is pushing up the prices. And the tactics used by poachers are bound to become more sophisticated as their targets become more lucrative.

Struggling African governments will continue to struggle to combat the poaching menace.

But tonight, in the face of Kenya’s latest gruesome attack, the country’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga seemed to accept that his government, despite its bravado, is incapable of beating the poachers on its own. He appealed for international help to contain the escalating threat.

Last year, 360 elephants were killed in Kenya while in 2011 the figure was 289. And, of course, 2013 already looks like it will be another terrible year.

Prime Minister Odinga's call has yet to be answered, but those who love this species will want the world to come together to fight the criminal gangs and cut consumer demand.