NAIROBI--At a Kenya Wildlife Service office in Loitok Tok near Amboseli National Park, a number of confiscated rifles from poachers are lined up.
But an official said that doesn't stop the illegal hunters, since lances and poisoned darts simply replace the automatic rifles.
About 260 African elephants were killed illegally in Kenya in 2011, as an increase in poaching is attributed to an increasing demand for ivory from the wealthy class in emerging economies.
In Amboseli National Park, visitors can get a great view of 5,895-meter Mount Kilimanjaro, along with seeing some of the park's 1,250 wild African elephants. However, even though KWS rangers, as well as about 3,000 residents, monitor the 390-square kilometer park, there has been no end to the poaching.
Richard Chepkwong, a senior warden responsible for protecting wildlife at the Amboseli park, describes one particular inhumane trick used by poachers.
They place nails to injure elephants when they step on them, then follow the wounded animals until they die, the official said.
Without the sound of gunshots, this method enables poachers to escape detection, or even if discovered, there would be little evidence.
The number of discovered incidents of elephant poaching in Kenya has seen a more than five-fold jump from 50 in 2000.
Last year, 727 elephant tusks were seized from cargo to be shipped to Asia at the port of Mombasa in eastern Kenya.
“Kenya could be serving as a shipping terminal of elephant tusks poached in Africa,” a KWS official said.
The trading of ivory is strictly restricted by the Washington Convention, an international agreement on the trade of endangered species of wildlife.
But in the black market, elephant tusks are sold at 30 dollars (2,300 yen) per kilogram.
By the time the tusks reaches the end broker, who will traffic them, the price could reach as high as 1,000 dollars per kg.
Ngene Shadrack, a wildlife ecologist, pointed out demand from a growing number of the wealthy class in emerging countries is a major reason for the increased poaching.
He said he hopes those people will stop buying products made from ivory, seeing the cruel nature of poaching.
To some villagers, however, wild elephants, which damage crops and attack humans, are the dangerous threat.
Saningo Letee, 20, a resident in a small village near the Amboseli park, saw his friend being stepped on by an elephant and killed in front of him.
He said there are three brutal elephants in his neighborhood.
“We are not allowed to fight elephants, which are protected,” said Olorasha Morinke, another villager. “We cannot even defend ourselves.”
An official at KWS said the best solution is for elephants to live far from villages, even though it is difficult to ensure they stay apart.
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