Disappointing!Kenya loses 26 jumbos in Maasai Mara

Mystery death of elephants in Maasai Mara National Reserve has raised alarm, a total of 26 Jumbos have died  in the past three months, 11 of them having been poisoned according to the Mara Elephant Project report (MEP).

In a report released on December 14, MEP said the deaths were reported in September, October and November. In November alone, seven deaths were categorised as “unknown” but there was evidence pointing toward poisoning.

The report published by MEP, says the poisoning may be as a result of human-wildlife conflicts.

Researchers suspect local communities, especially crop farmers, could have poisoned the jumbos that have been invading and destroying their farms.

“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.

The second elephant carcass reported in the two-day period of September 14 and 15./MEP

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 Nation in an email.

“We will harmonise the monitoring of illegally killed elephants every quarter and the next quarter is planned to be done in January. This means that we can then share the exact data publicly of how they were killed,” added the email sent by Mr Marc Goss.

The report indicates that MEP rangers in partnership Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) took samples and sent them to a KWS lab for analysis.

The report indicates that MEP rangers in partnership Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) took samples and sent them to a KWS lab for analysis.

During the post-mortem conducted by a KWS veterinary identified as Dr Limo, there was no indication of disease and it is hard to pinpoint the cause of death.KWS labs are yet to release a report on their findings on the jumbo deaths.

Contacted for a comment, Narok County Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Senior Warden Dickson Ritan referred us to their media spokesperson in Nairobi, saying they were not involved in the report.

“We were not part of the report, but you can call KWS spokesperson who is mandated to respond on such matters,” said Mr Ritan on phone.

However, the Nation’s calls to the spokesperson, Mr Paul Masela, went unanswered.

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On its part, Narok county government said they were shocked by the report and wondered how the organisation arrived at the number of the dead animals.

Maasai Mara Senior Game Warden Moses Kuyioni poked holes in the report, questioning the mandate of MEP on the reserve.He said they were in contact with MEP to explain why it was released without their input and involvement.

“We called the organisation on Sunday over the same, and more communication on the same would be released later,” said Mr Kuyioni.

The MEP report fell short of indicating if tusks were intact when the elephants were found dead.

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