Two suspected poachers were shot dead Tuesday during an exchange of fire with rangers at a national park in southeastern Kenya, the national wildlife service reported.
A total of four armed intruders, “suspected to have been on a poaching mission”, were discovered in Tsavo East National Park, a busy tourist destination which is home to large mammals including elephants and rhinos.
There was “a fierce fire exchange which resulted in two suspected poachers being eliminated,” the Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement.
The two other men escaped but are believed to be injured and were being sought by rangers.
The authorities also seized an AK-47 rifle, along with ammunition and spent cartridges, as well as bows and arrows with poisoned tips.
In order to protect its populations of elephants and rhinos, whose tusks and horns bring big money for poachers and smugglers, Kenya’s park rangers are increasingly militarised.
Last April, Kenyan authorities burnt 105 tonnes of ivory, some five percent of the global stock, in a symbolic gesture of the fight against the illicit trade.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the number of African elephants fell by around 111,000 to 415,000 over the past decade.
The killing shows no sign of abating with around 30,000 elephants slaughtered for their ivory every year.