By Glen Johnson
The shooter had laid up atop a flat, house-sized boulder - no more than 10 metres from the elephant - and blasted a bullet down through the animal's head.
The poachers set to work, hacking off the tusks under a setting sun before scurrying up a rocky ridge, trekking off into the night. The slain elephant was around 25 years old, its tusks weighing five kilograms apiece.
Nearby, a herder grazing livestock heard the shot echo and began running for his manyatta settlement. Within three hours, 14 armed rangers converged at the nearest road access - an eight kilometre hike from where the elephant's carcass lay.
The rangers were each of them Samburu tribesmen. Tracking is in their blood. But you can't track without light. They waited until dawn. By the time they reached the carcass, the poachers had 10 hours on them.
"They were very clever," said Chris Lentaam, a ranger, pointing at the rocky ridge beside the stinking carcass as he clutched his antiquated rifle. "They jumped between boulders so we couldn't follow their footprints easily."
The rangers tracked for a near solid two days, scouring the terrain for prints. But the poachers were long gone.
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