Four poachers have been arrested for trapping and killing Kenya’s most endangered antelope, the Hirola, which is threatened with extinction.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens on patrol in Kilindini area along the River Tana arrested the poachers who had trapped the antelope using snares.
Officers led by Cpl Ibrahim Haro saw suspicious footprints in the grazing field frequented by the Hirola antelope and after tracking them found four poachers skinning the antelope in a thicket.
The poachers were forced to surrender at gunpoint and were arrested.
Cpl Haro said the poachers, who are being held at Masalani police station awaiting referral to a Hola magistrates court, had also killed a buffalo a week earlier and were on KWS officers’ wanted list.
He appealed to communities living along the Tana River not to hunt the Hirola antelope as the species, which is only found in Kenya, was in danger of extinction.
He said the Kenya Wildlife Society officers will continue to mount patrols to ensure the endangered species was safe from poachers.
The Hirola weighs between 75 and 160 kilogrammes and, according to KWS officials, is threatened with extinction from poachers and competition from domestic livestock.
The antelope is one of the world’s rarest animals.
The KWS and donors translocated 29 of the animals to Tsavo East National Park in 1995 and 1996 to try and protect it from decimation by poachers.
Armed with bow
In Tana River District, the district warden, Ibrahim Osman warned residents against hunting dikdiks which he said were also facing extinction.
He said Kenya Wildlife Society wardens recently arrested eight poachers with 187 dikdik carcasses.
He said the game that used to be common near Hola town had now fled to other areas.
He warned that anyone found with game meat will face heavy penalties.
Meanwhile, a suspected poacher was arrested yesterday morning after he was caught in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia East District armed with a bow and poisoned arrows.
Yesterday’s incident comes a month after suspected poachers killed a black rhino at the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
No one has been arrested in connection with the incident.