According to the Rangers, they heard gunshots on Monday evening that made them uncomfortable. They looked all over the place throughout the night in search of whatever it was that the shooters were shooting at. After searching the vast park, they found the massacre the next morning. There was indiscriminate blood shed and loose skin where the tusks were hacked off. Based on Kenyan authorities the poachers escaped on motorcycles, taking with them their loot. Elephant tusks can be disposed in Asia to earn big cash which is estimated to be more than $1,000 per pound.
The poaching of elephants has recently witnessed a hike thanks to the increase in demand for ivory in Asia, where it is used for long-standing but unproven medicinal purposes. Between 2010 and 2012, poachers took the life of over 100,000 African elephants — a level of ruination that placed the specie on the verge of extinction.
Unlike many other animals, elephants mourn the death of their brethren by wrapping their trunks around the bones or carcasses of the deceased. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, a non governmental organization, said:
We are in an elephant crisis right now,”
The government say they were making progress in the fight against poachers before the current incident. Last year, it deployed 550 new rangers for ranger wages, rations, vehicle fuel and maintenance, radio repairs, prosecutions and uniforms to enable them perform better. Technological advances also have contributed in allowing researchers to track herds using GPS trackers, gauging when they might be under threat due to their movement and speed. Paul Gathitu, a spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service said:
“We’ve increased our intelligence and our operations. We were having success, that’s why we’re so surprised.”
“It’s just devastating,” said Paul Gathitu, . “It took us completely by surprise.
This kind of awful act of elephant mass slaughter is not only peculiar to Kenya. Other African countries have had a similar experiences in the past. Example, in Congo, 30 elephants were slaughtered in 15 days earlier this year in Garamba National Park. The illegal wildlife trade is valued at $7 billion and $10 billion every year.
In Tsavo, investigators are looking for the men who carried out the gruesome act. Two suspects have been arrested. Security officials discovered a bloodstained axe and a hacksaw in one of their homes. Kenyan investigators say the poachers came into the country from the borders of the neighboring Tanzania, slaughtered the elephants and then quickly ran back to their base, making them tough to track. Tsavo stretches along the border for more than 50 miles.
Just two days before the Tsavo elephants were killed, President Obama said during a historic visit to Kenya that he would introduce more restrictions in the United States to shrink the market for ivory there. The regulation would preclude the sale of ivory from African elephants across state lines.
However, the United States ivory market makes up only a small fraction of the international ivory market, and regulations in Asia remain loosely enforced.