Tragic scene of the slaughtered animal family. (Photo: Twitter)
Move over Walter Palmer, there are new animal killers on the block. On the heels of a major outcry after the American dentist killed a well-known lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe earlier this week, a group of elephants — what appear to be a mother and her four babies — have been slaughtered in Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park.
The dead animals were discovered Tuesday morning by park rangers on the protected land. They were found with their tusks “hacked” off, according to The Washington Post.
“It’s just devastating,” Paul Gathitu, a spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service told the Washington Post. “It took us completely by surprise.”
By Thursday, authorities had detained two alleged poachers and found axes stained with fresh blood, a hack-saw, and more incriminating evidence in the suspects’ homes.
According to authorities, the poachers came via the border of Tanzania, shot the elephants, messily severed their tusks, and escaped on motorcycles Monday night.
Despite the publicity about Cecil the lion, poachers are actually a much bigger threat, especially to elephants, than big game hunting. In the last three years alone, poachers have slaughtered more than 100,000 elephants. In fact, every year, poachers slaughter 35,000 of the estimated 500,000 African elephants, which is a kill rate faster than the elephants are able to reproduce. The elephants are targeted because the ivory from pachyderms’ tusks can sell for up to $1,500 a pound on the black market, and is of particular value in Asia.
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