KENYA- Poachers have shot dead three critically endangered black rhinos in a specially-protected sanctuary in northern Kenya, the wildlife service said on Thursday.
The two adult rhino’s and a calf were killed inside the 83 square kilometre fenced rhino sanctuary in Meru National Park and had their horns removed.
In a statement on Twitter, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said, “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the poaching of three rhinos last night… at the Rhino Sanctuary in Meru N Park, where we lost two black rhinos & a calf,”
“Gun shots were heard and ambushes laid at strategic points till morning,” adding that this “did not yield results.”
On Thursday KWS said “aerial and ground” searches revealed the three carcasses “with the horns missing”.
It continued to say, “No sign of the gang was reported, but our teams, both covert and overt, are in hot pursuit with good leads.”
Rhino horn has become hot property in the last couple of years as it’s made of keratin, its the same substance as human hair and fingernails. It is highly in demand in Asia, where consumers believe its ground form can cure hangovers or be used as an aphrodisiac.
According to KWS rhino and elephant poaching has reduced in Kenya in recent years, with nine rhinos and 69 elephants killed last year.
However the country remains an important portal for illegal wildlife products smuggled out of the port at Mombasa and Nairobi airport.
According to Save the Rhinos figures, there are less than 5 500 black rhinos in the world, all of them in Africa and Kenya’s black rhino population stands at just 750, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature.
Kenya is also home to the only two known remaining northern white rhinos on earth.
Photo Credit-Viral Snoop