, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9 -Three suspected poachers were Sunday gunned down in a rhino sanctuary in Tsavo West National Park.
This happened after they defied orders to surrender and instead fired at Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers who had laid an ambush. One of the suspects is believed to have escaped with injuries according to the KWS officials.
KWS communication manager Paul Udoto says that rangers had laid an ambush for the last 10 days in the park when they encountered the poachers.
A rifle with six rounds of ammunition among other assorted equipments was recovered from the suspects.
Other items included two machetes, a knife, two pieces of assorted poison, an axe, two mobile phones, a leather bag, some food and water.
Police officers from Mtito Andei police station have visited the scene of crime to conduct further investigations.
The government is faced with a major challenge of poaching mainly targeting elephants and Rhinos, sparking fears of a possible extinction in the near future.
Last week (September 6) KWS successfully translocated 21 rhinos from Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to the newly established Borana Rhino sanctuary in Laikipia.
Ten rhinos were moved from Lake Nakuru National Park while the other 11 were translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
KWS spokesperson Paul Muya says the translocation is aimed at establishing a new rhino population and keeping the established populations in Lake Nakuru National Park and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy productive by maintaining their numbers below their ecological carrying capacity levels.
“We want to establish a viable stock of the recommended number by the International Union for Conservation of Nature of up to 21 rhinos,” he said.
Muya noted that the number of rhinos breeding at the Lake Nakuru National Park had increased enormously creating concerns that it may lead to a food crisis for other wildlife at the park.
“We have currently 140 rhinos in the park,” he revealed.
“Black rhinos have steadily increased within the sanctuaries necessitating removals to avoid negative density dependent effects. However, many established sanctuaries still remain overstocked hence new secure habitats are required.”
The current Conservation and Management Strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya 2012-2016 sets targets on restocking former free ranging areas which can support large populations, as well as the creation of Intensive Protection Zones (IPZ) and secure sanctuaries in order to achieve its strategic objective of population expansion to reach a confirmed total of 750 black rhinos by end of 2016.