Two more rhinos have been killed in two separate incidents barely a week after a male rhino was gunned down in Ngulia Rhino conservancy in Tsavo West National Park. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens on patrol stumbled on the washed-out bones of a two-month old rhino with a steel-wire snare around its neck bones at Mukurumo in Chyullu Hills National Park. The rangers recovered the two horns estimated to be 1.6 kg.
Tsavo conservation assistant director Robert O’brein said the baby rhino died three months ago after failing to extricate itself from the wire snare set by poachers suspected to be members of the community living around the park. Chyullu Hills National Park falls under the vast Tsavo Conservation area that also comprises of Tsavo East and West National Park. “The rangers only found the bones of the baby rhino estimated to have died three months ago after getting entangled in a snare. We have recovered the horns and they are in our custody,” said O’brein.
The discovery is expected to further infuriate conservationists who are still reeling from the recent twin killings of rhinos at Tsavo West National Park and Ol Pajeta Conservancy in the past one week. Chyullu National Park, located between Kibwezi and Makindu, is notorious for cases of trespassers especially the surrounding communities who wander in the park in search of soapstone for commercial carvings.
The slopes of Chyullu Hills were also home for top-grade miraa plant that attracted dozens of locals who trespassed into the park to harvest the crop for sale. As a result, cases of trespass in the protected area are on the rise, posing a new headache for KWS as the agency seek ways to assist the locals find alternative means of livelihood. Chyullu National Park, a Free-range Black Rhino area, was considered as one of the country’s last remaining bastions of black rhino in Kenya.
The Chyullu rhinos have largely remained undisturbed because of their ferocious temperament and distaste for tourists and local visitors. O’brein said the rangers carry out frequent patrols in the park to search for snares which the locals set up all over the expansive area but due to lack of adequate manpower, most snares went undetected exposing the big games to poaching risks. He termed the use of snare an extremely dangerous way of poaching because snares could be left for years in the park and still be effective.
It is said to be one of the cruelest methods employed by poachers because once an animal is ensnared, it dies of starvation, dehydration or fall prey to predators. “We have a problem with the community living around the parks. While most access the park to get soapstone, others are poachers. Most poachers opt to use snares because it is a quiet way of killing the game and once an animal is caught, unless found, it will die,” he said.
Last week, a male rhino was gunned down at Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Tsavo triggering an outcry over the rise in poaching in the country. The poachers escaped with a horn and an ear marked with KWS rhino identification tag. And on Tuesday night a mature rhino was also killed and its horns removed at Ol jogi ranch, Laikipia county.