Kenyan rangers have shot dead a notorious Somali poacher who plundered a game park for two decades and has killed 17 elephants and nine rhinos in the last five years, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Friday.
NAIROBI Kenyan rangers have shot dead a notorious Somali poacher who plundered a game park for two decades and has killed 17 elephants and nine rhinos in the last five years, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Friday.
Sixty-year-old Hussein Ture, who was reputed locally to have magic powers, died during a gunfight with rangers on Thursday in Kenya's Tsavo East National Park, ending a two-and-a-half month chase in and outside the park.
Another member of his gang of three was seriously injured.
"I'm glad to tell Kenyans and the world at large that this poacher has been eliminated," Julius Kipng'etich, the KWS director, told a news conference.
"It has been a rat race between our rangers and the gangsters. We suspect that the target was rhinos."
Ture died near a ranch outside the park, KWS said. A rusty AK-47 rifle and 113 rounds of ammunition were found with him.
Kipng'etich said that Ture, known for helping other Somali poachers plan their hunts, had been pursued since the 1980s.
Poaching is a perennial problem in the east African country, whose wildlife and parks are a major tourist draw.
Most famous for its elephants, Tsavo East -- which lies in north-east Kenya near the Somali border -- has been particularly hard-hit by poaching, especially in the late 1980s. Sections of it were closed to visitors at one point due to the menace.
KWS said Ture took away 72 kgs (159 lb) of rhino horn and 600 kgs of ivory between 2001 and 2006 for sale in his homeland.
"I can almost say we trace the gangster to more than 20 years of contact with KWS," said Kipng'etich, adding that he survived capture for so long thanks to his knowledge of the vast park's scrubland terrain.
KWS described Ture as being hump-backed, a sharp-shooter, plus "swift and very brave".
"He is known to be a specialised sorcerer who makes predictions about situations beforehand, and therefore has a lot of confidence from his gang members and other poaching gangs," KWS said in a statement.
One kilogram of rhino horn fetches $1,800 in the Somali market while a kilogram of ivory is valued at $70, KWS said.