Perhaps best known for the Man eating lions of Tsavo, the park is Kenya’s largest, at over 22,812 square kilometers. The park is so huge that it was divided into two parts, the Tsavo East and the Tsavo West.
Home to 10% of the largest elephants on earth also known as tuskers, the park is an important sanctuary for these magnificent creatures. The park also has one of the largest populations of black rhinos in Kenya.
Tsavo is Kenya’s largest protected area of wilderness and is one of the few places on earth where large herds of elephants, lions, rhinos and other big animals still roam free.
Tragedies Of Poaching
Despite being a sanctuary for elephants, the park has not been spared from the tragedies of poaching. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the park lost over half of its elephants to poaching. The population has since recovered, but the threat of poaching still looms large.
Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of elephants being killed for their ivory. In 2013, around 100 elephants were killed in the park. In 2014, the number rose to over 300. The majority of the elephants killed are bulls, which are targeted for their large tusks.
The increase in elephant killings has been attributed to the growing demand for ivory in Asia, particularly in China.
China’s Prosperity Is Destroying African Elephant Population
The price of ivory has more than tripled since 2010, largely due to the growing demand from China. As the country’s economy has grown, so too has the number of people who can afford to buy ivory.
China is now the world’s largest market for ivory, with an estimated 70% of the global trade taking place there. The high price of ivory has made it an attractive commodity for poachers, who are willing to risk their lives to obtain it.
The illegal ivory trade is having a devastating effect on elephant populations across Africa. It is estimated that around 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks. At this rate, African elephants could be extinct within 20 years.
The Kenyan government has stepped up its efforts to combat poaching, but the problem is still very prevalent. In 2016, the government burnt over 105 tonnes of ivory in an attempt to discourage the trade.
While the future of Africa’s elephants looks uncertain, Tsavo National Park remains one of the few places on earth where these magnificent creatures can still be found in large numbers.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has been on the frontline in the fight against poaching. Unfortunately, this has come at a cost, with several rangers being killed in the line of duty.
In 2013, six rangers were killed in an ambush by poachers. In 2016, a further three rangers were killed in separate incidents. In 2017 five wildlife rangers and three other men working with them were killed. These brave men and women risk their lives every day to protect Africa’s wildlife, and they are often the only barrier between animals and poachers.
The fight against poaching is a difficult one, but it is crucial in order to save Africa’s elephants from extinction. The future of these magnificent creatures depends on it.