Mystery death of 26 elephants unsettles Kenya, govt. orders investigation
The Kenyan government is moving heaven and earth to reveal the mystery surrounding the deaths of 26 elephants in Maasai Mara National Reserve, which is managed by the Narok county government and raises millions of dollars each year for the country.
All 26 elephants are alleged to have died in the last three months while the cause of the deaths remains “unknown”.
At least 11 of the jumbos are suspected to have been poisoned, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported Wednesday.
The source recalled that in November alone, seven deaths were categorised as “unknown” but there was evidence pointing toward poisoning, quoting a damning report published last week by the Mara Elephant Project (MEP).
The report, published on the MEP website and posted on their Facebook account on December 14, says the poisoning may be as a result of human-wildlife conflicts.
Preliminary investigations indicate some of the dead elephants were poisoned with cyanide.
That means they were targeted either for their tusks (poaching) or as retaliation after they invaded private farms and destroyed crops, the source said.
“Now, there is some evidence based on the location and circumstances of these unknown deaths that are pointing toward poisoning as a result of conflict retaliation, and there are some unknown deaths that point to pesticide poisoning,” reads the report in part.
Researchers suspect local communities, especially crop farmers, could have poisoned the jumbos that have been invading their farms and destroying crops.
“We’re looking for evidence that poison was used to kill the elephants. Other things we may find out include, if a strong pesticide was found in their system that may have resulted in the deaths,” the report states.
In September, the findings showed that three elephant carcasses were found in proximity of protected areas of the ecosystem.
Five of the elephants during this reporting period died as a result of “natural causes”, the report says.
“But what’s disturbing is the rise in ‘unknown’ elephant deaths of which there are 11 of these cases in this reporting period. However, not all 26 cases were attributed to being mysterious,” MEP leader told the DAILY Nation newspaper in an email. (ADV)