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Shocking pictures: Elephant family slaughtered by poachers

Report by Matt Blake, Video by Lindsay Brown

Twelve elephants have been slaughtered in the single worst recorded ivory poaching ever in Kenya.

The massacre, in Tsavo National Park, saw the elephants shot multiple times, slaughtered and their tusks hacked off. This family of 12 elephants is the latest victim of the illegal ivory trade.

Kenya's Wildlife Service are on the trail of about ten alleged poachers thought to be responsible for the killings.

"First of all, the area where it happened is some distance for them to exit the park. They will require more than a day, so we are positive," said Paul Mbugua with Kenya Wide Life Service. "We mobilized before they exited. We are on the ground and also doing aerial surveillance."

Poaching continues to pose a huge threat to wildlife and conservationists in the country.

In the Laikipia-Samburu region alone, 458 elephants were illegally killed by poachers in the last four years. And last year poachers killed six rangers.

Mr Mbugua continued: "The number of poachers has increased. There are a number of reasons for this. The prices of ivory in the black market is encouraging and has indeed attracted a lot of poachers and players. Because the whole business of poaching and trafficking in ivory is actually a cartel and poachers are just one link of the chain."

When the Kenyan government banned the trade in ivory in 1989, elephant poaching declined sharply. But this week's killing is the latest sign that the Asian demand for ivory is on the rise. Last year, 1.6 tons of tusks were confiscated in Sri Lanka, thought to have originated from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

But now, an inter-agency committee is planned to address the root cause of escalating poaching. And additional rangers have been recruited to beef up security.

Meanwhile, the wild life service says a forensic and genetic laboratory under construction in the capital Nairobi is expected to provide credible evidence to aid the prosecution of wildlife offenders.

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