By Lillian Leposo
In Kenya's Tsavo East national park, a herd of elephants take up water in their trunks and squirt it on their backs. Some wade and stomp in the shallow pool of muddy water -- the coolness is a sweet relief from the baking savannah heat.
As the sun begins to dip behind the hills, they form a single file and lumber slowly into the distance, lucky to be alive.
At the beginning of the year, 12 elephants were slaughtered in this park by poachers and stripped of their tusks. It was Kenya's single biggest killing of elephants in the last two decades.
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), so far this year a further 200 elephants have been killed across the country for their ivory.
Reports by the KWS say that in the early 1970s the elephant population stood at an estimated 167,000, but in just five decades, it has plummeted to slightly more than 35,000.
Conservationists warn that if the trend continues, in 10 years, elephants in Kenya will be wiped out.
Robert Obrein, an assistant director at KWS, showed CNN what they call the "elephant graveyard." This section of the park has rows and rows of old elephant skulls and jaws -- a memorial site for elephants that died from drought and at the hands of poachers.
"This is just part of maybe a quarter of what is out there," says Obrein. "These are hundreds of elephants, hundreds of elephants -- dead." More....