11 elephants were shot down in a single bloody massacre on the 5th January, the same day that Hong Kong customs officials intercepted 779 elephant tusks weighing 2,900 pounds in a container originating from Kenya. Another shipment valued at US$ 1.4 million In October, 1,209 tusks weighing 3.8 tons and worth about $3.5 million were seized from two containers shipped from Tanzania and Kenya. The very next month, 1.6 tons were discovered in a container originating from Tanzania . Sadly what happened in Tsavo is not an isolated case.Elephants are dieing throughout the region daily due to the seemingly insatiable demand for their Ivory in the East.
At 12:59hrs on the 5th December the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Tsavo Pilot received a text message from a friend - "We have just flown over the Tiva River near the Roka airstrip and seen some very distressed elies, then flew back and saw five bodies - it must have just happened". The DSWT Pilot, who was on that day busy with another DSWT Project in the Lamu area, immediately called the aircraft which had first spotted the incident, and received coordinates and further details. The herd of 80-100 elephants, that KWS with the help of DSWT’s aerial unit had been monitoring in the weeks leading up to this incident was attacked by a gang of 10 Somali poachers, and was now scattering in panic across the Tiva to the east and across to the north bank of the river. By 13.08hrs the information had been passed on to the Kenya Wildlife Service authorities in Tsavo East who immediately dispatched two teams of rangers, one from the north and one from the south.
The elephants had been taken down in an area considered a 'hot zone' – an area where the DSWT teams are no longer cleared to enter as despite having 3 armed rangers they remain not sufficiently equipped to tackle this sort of armed threat. In order to assist the response to this attack the DSWT vehicles and drivers and GPS equipment were immediately made available to the Kenyan Wildlife Service ranger forces. With the rains now stopped and the Park beginning to dry the attacked herd had begun to move north towards the Tiva River’s South Bank when this incident occurred.
The incident took place a significant distance from Ithumba where the DSWT Orphan project is based, and none of the ex-orphans were involved. The Kenya Wildlife Service with the support of the DSWT aircraft is continuing to track down the poachers who have dispersed in different directions, but they have caught the gang leader. So far the ivory has not been recovered.
This tragic incident reinforces the critical need for effective Anti-Poaching Patrols, supported by aerial surveillance, in the giant Tsavo Conservation Area. So that we might be better able to protect elephants and, alongside KWS, apprehend those responsible for the poaching of elephants. This work is reliant on your help and we would welcome any donation you are able to make: Make a donation
We would also urge you to take action by signing our petition to CITES, which is part of our iWorry campaign, which calls on all people to Say No to Ivory
. Up to 38,000 elephants are reported to be killed for their ivory every year, to fuel the rampant demand for so called white gold from China and the Far East. The ivory is all too often carved into ornaments and trinkets and to quote our Founder, Dame Daphne Sheldrick, "Everyone can live without a trinket". So please sign the petition and take further action at iWorry Website
Watch the ITV News report Growing Ivory Trade Leads to Poaching Increase
which follows this incident.