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Collared jumbo killed, tusks hacked off

Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY RAABI HAWA

A GPS collared elephant known as Heritage has been killed at the Maasai Mara. Heritage was the first jumbo to be collared in the Mara Elephant Project in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Services and Save The Elephants. So far 11 elephants have been collared.

The collar would help in the study of Heritage's movements and behaviour and relay location data to KWS. Collaring elephants provides information on where Bulls spend most of their time. This is expected to help the local communities and protect their farms.

The cost of a single GPS collar is $3,000 (Sh253,195). Daily management and operation costs add up to $15,000 (Sh1.2 million) a year. Gunshots were heard in Nyakweri Forest about seven kilometres from Oloololo main gate on Sunday night.

The rangers were however unable to scout the area the area due to heavy rains at the time. Rangers from the Mara Conservancy and Mara Elephant Project found Heritage's carcass the next morning. The poachers had cut off Heritage's tusks.

Marc Goss, the manager of the rapid response unit said: “Mep is doing everything we can to curb poaching. We work very closely with KWS, the local government and councils to find, arrest and ensure poachers are prosecuted. In 2012 we arrested 47 elephant poachers and dealers.” The demand for ivory in Asia has seen an increase in the number of African elephants killed for their tusks. China is the main consumer of the ivory.

“We we are doing everything in our capacity to manage the situation but we need more support from donors, government and communities to increase our spheres of operation, information networks and capacity to have boots in poaching hotspots.” Goss said. “The poachers are well organised and lethal in their hunt for bull elephants. Our success have made a dent in the poaching menace, but we are still losing our bulls at an alarming rate.”