In April of this year, the carcases of a female rhino and her calf were found in Serengeti National Park. The rhinos had been killed for their horns several weeks earlier by poachers, and their bodies were discovered by rangers while out on regular patrols. The recent killing reduces the current rhino population in the Moru region of the Serengeti from 31 to 29 individuals.
4 arrests - 32 staff suspended.
Upon finding the bodies, the park authorities launched an investigation with the police and have since arrested four suspects. To date, no trophies have been recovered. While TANAPA reacted swiftly on the ground, they did not make the information about the recent rhino killings known. The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism found out over a month later when the news was reported by an MP from the Serengeti District, and immediately suspended four of TANAPA's most senior staff and 28 rangers, pending further investigations.
While it is unclear whether or not there was any involvement in the recent killing by park staff, it is clear that much more needs to be done in order to protect the rhinos and elephants in the face of growing pressure and increasing demands from Asian markets. The Frankfurt Zoological Society has been pushing for the implementation of the Serengeti Security Plan that was approved by the Rhino Technical Committee last year, but TANAPA have yet to fully engage. Until this is done, FZS believes the rhinos will remain at risk.
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