By Thomas Whittle
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers have killed four suspected poachers while others escaped with injuries in Isiolo, eastern region. KWS Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said on Sunday the suspected poachers were gunned down in a shootout at Ngare Ndare forest within Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a renowned and dedicated rhino sanctuary late on Friday.
“The rangers were on patrol when they encountered the gang of five men within the sanctuary. The suspects had been ordered to surrender but they opened fire at the rangers,” Udoto said in Nairobi.
He said a shootout ensued leaving four members of the gang dead, noting that their accomplice escaped with injuries. “KWS rangers were not hurt in the early evening shoot out,” said Udoto.
According to the KWS manager, G3 rifle, seven rounds of ammunition and assorted poaching weapons were recovered.
He said the police from Isiolo have visited the scene of crime and are helping with further investigations while the accomplice who escaped with injuries is being pursued in the adjacent areas.
The incident comes after the government announced plans to deploy 1,000 more rangers to beef up wildlife security efforts to curb rising incidents of poaching across the East African nation.
Government spokesman Muthui Kariuki said the deployment of more rangers by the KWS will help in scaling up efforts to salvage the remaining elephants in Kenya, 74 elephants having already been killed in the first 3 months of 2013 alone.
“KWS is modernizing its force with the support of the government. We intend to fight poachers at all levels to save our elephants,” he said on April 6 in the latest anti-poaching measures the East African nation has taken amid dwindling wildlife population.
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