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SOS Rhino : In the News : Search for black rhino poachers

Search for black rhino poachers

Nairobi - Kenyan authorities have launched a massive manhunt for poachers suspected of killing rare black rhinos in the East African nation's famed Tsavo East National Park. The Kenya Wildlife Service said it had begun a "major operation" in and around the park after recovering the carcasses of two rhinos that had been shot and mutilated at the weekend. "The carcasses were discovered on Saturday with their horns extracted," said KWS spokesperson Connie Maina. "We have embarked on a major operation in the area to try to locate the culprits." Maina said a combined force of armed KWS rangers and police had fanned out around Tsavo East, about 300km south-east of Nairobi, to track the alleged poachers.

Tsavo East is home to an estimated 50 threatened black and highly endangered white rhinos, both of which are protected but prized by trophy hunters and poachers.

Rhino horns fetch high prices in Asian black markets, owing to their believed medicinal properties, as well as in the Middle East, where they are used as decorative dagger handles by wealthy Arab elites.

Despite rigid enforcement of its poaching laws, the illegal trade in trophies is blamed for a serious decline in the number of rhinos in Kenya over the past 40 years.

Between 1963 and 1989, Kenya's rhino population declined by about 88 percent because of massive poaching, prompting authorities to start conservation programmes. - Sapa-AFP

This article was originally published on page 10 of The Mercury on May 26, 2006

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