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Nairobi (AFP) – Armed poachers have slaughtered four rhinos in a reserve in central Kenya, the worst single attack on the species in more than 20 years, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said Monday.
KWS spokesman Paul Muya said two groups of poachers managed to enter the Ol Jogi Ranch, a private game reserve situated 225 kilometres (145 miles) north of Nairobi, on July 9 under the cover of darkness.
“In total four rhinos were killed and they managed to escape with three horns,” Muya told AFP, saying the incident was the worst single attack in Kenya on rhinos since 1988, when six were slaughtered by poachers.
“Two suspects have been arrested and are to be arraigned in court today,” he added.
According to the KWS, poachers have killed 22 rhinos so far this year — compared to a total of 59 last year — and there are now just over 1,000 of the animals left in Kenya.
On the Asian black market, rhino horn is sought after as an ingredient in traditional medicine and can be more expensive than the equivalent weight in gold.
Ivory from elephants is also sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.