Poaching by Poison Arrow

Poaching by Poison Arrow

The local communities of Waliangulu or Waatha people (made famous as elephant poachers in the 1950’s and known as the “elephant people”) along with the WaKamba, Waduruma and Giriama have been well known as masters of the bush for many decades. It is widely believed by many that poisoned arrow poaching has died out over time and as new generations have come, the younger men have not carried this tradition on. This is categorically not the case. Poaching via the use of poisoned arrows is effectively deadly, it is silent (meaning loud noise like a gunshot does not give away the position of poacher), it is devastatingly deadly, the people who poach via poisoned arrow are expert bush men and are able to get very close to the elephant they are targeting, all too often when an elephant carcass (having been killed by poisoned arrow) is found it is often several days or weeks old meaning that any chance of a successful rapid follow up has long been missed.

In 2014 Tsavo Trust observed and was aware of no less than 106 fresh or recent elephant carcasses (75 of these found jointly by KWS/Tsavo Trust during aerial reconnaissance). Of this, 21 elephant carcasses were confirmed to have been poached via poisoned arrow (i.e. 20%). It is very important to note here that out of the total number of carcasses found many are recorded as “unconfirmed death” due to carcass decomposition. It remains a fact that many of those carcasses reported as “unconfirmed death” could in fact be elephant that have been poached via poisoned arrows. So, the above figures are minimums at best. Many of these poached elephants via poisoned arrow are in the southern area of TENP, the planned area to enhance anti-poaching operations through deployment of a mobile Tembo 1 team working with KWS.

By increasing the number of men on the ground who patrol jointly with KWS on a daily basis and by providing them with the basic logistical support to carry out anti-poaching work effectively, their physical presence will acts as a deterrent to poachers, the boosted number of men are able to apprehend poachers, with the vehicle at their disposal, deployments in several directions and by at least 2 foot patrols can be achieved and with this a far more thorough coverage of the threatened area is achieved than was the case before Tembo 1 was deployed.