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Poachers kill 11 elephants in worst Kenyan attack

Thomson ReutersEnlarge
(/GlobalPost)

* Asian demand surging for ivory ornaments

* Patrols hunting for 10-strong gang

NAIROBI, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Poachers killed a family of 11
elephants in the biggest single mass shooting of the animals on
record in Kenya, wildlife officials said on Monday.

A gang of about 10 attackers hacked off the elephants' tusks
in Tsavo East National Park on Saturday, officials said - the
latest sign of a resurgence of mostly Asian demand for ivory
jewellery and ornaments.

"(It) shows the great lengths these criminal cartels are
ready to go to get ivory. It's really tragic," Kenya Wildlife
Service spokesman Paul Udo told Reuters via Twitter.

He said it was the worst single incident of its kind
recorded in the East African country.

Elephant poaching in Kenya declined sharply after 1989 when
the government banned trade in ivory.

But there has been a rise in the illegal practice in recent
years.

Demand for ornamental ivory is rising fast in Asia in tandem
with growing Chinese influence and investment in Africa.

The Kenya Wildlife Service said foot, dog and aerial units
were hunting the gang.

"The entire family of 11 elephants have been confirmed
poached and tusks chopped off. All the carcasses had bullet
wounds," the service said in a statement.

In May, 359 tusks weighing 1.6 tonnes impounded in Sri Lanka
were found to have come from Kenya's Mombasa
port.

Police found 214 tusks worth $1.32 million hidden in a
coffin and fertiliser bags in neighbouring Tanzania in October.
The force said smugglers had planned to transport the ivory to
Kenya for onward shipment to Asia.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by James Macharia and
Andrew Heavens)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130107/poachers-kill-11-elephants-worst-kenyan-attack