By Job Weru
Laikipia, Kenya: Poachers shot a black mother rhino and later on its calf was killed by lions while escaping danger at a conservancy in Laikipia.
Ol Pejeta ranch lost its eight-year-old rhino named ‘Malkia’ during the incident near Buffalo Plain area. The ranch’s marketing manager Elodie Sampere said ‘Malkia’ was shot and seriously injured by the gang, but succumbed to her injuries a day later.
Sampere said the poachers struck at 7pm and the security jolted into action immediately. “When our security team got the first alarm, they immediately dispatched a response team, but unfortunately, the poachers escaped and managed to injure one rhino,” she said in a statement.
The rhino’s calf, which was one-month old escaped from the poachers immediately after its mother was felled, but ran into a pride of lions which killed her.
“We are devastated by this loss. But you can rest assured that we will continue to review and improve every aspect of our security operations,” she noted.
Barely a week before the attack, poachers raided the prestigious, Ol Jogi Conservancy’s rhino sanctuary and severely massacred four rhinos in a one-night attack.
The poachers, who were believed to have been in two groups struck at the 58,000-acre ranch on July 12, and shot and killed three rhinos at Mlima Nyasi and V-Shaped Dam in the conservancy.
“They also seriously injured a fourth rhino which was later taken in for treatment by Kenya Wildlife Service officers,” said a security source.
Sampere regretted that poaching has reached unprecedented heights in the country and attributed the attacks to the high prices rhino horns are attracting.
Internet sources indicate the price of a rhino horn has surpassed that of gold, and poachers are willing to take greater risks.
Kenya is a major transit route for ivory destined for Asian markets from eastern and central Africa in recent years.