Kenya's largest elephant killing on record comes on the heels of a sevenfold increase in elephant killings since 2007, driven by soaring Asian demand for ivory.
Kenya has suffered its worst loss of elephants to poachers on record, with 12 members of one family slaughtered and their tusks hacked out in just a few hours last weekend.
Eleven adults and one infant calf died in a “targeted and efficient” attack highlighting the growing professionalism of poachers bankrolled by international criminals supplying soaring demand for ivory in the Far East. The calf, less than a year old, is believed to have been crushed by its dying mother as she fell to the ground.
“It is unimaginable, a heinous, heinous crime,” said Paul Udoto, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). “We have not seen such an incident in recent memory, it’s the worst single loss that we have on record, and our records go back almost 30 years. These were professional killers. The attack was targeted and efficient.”
The poachers, armed with automatic rifles, had already fled, but there were hopes Tuesday that a massive search involving foot patrols, a dozen vehicles, and three aircraft could still find them.
“Every possible resource is being deployed to track down these criminals,” Mr. Udoto said. “They will feel the full force of the law.”