This denial doesn’t surprise me at all – whether it has any substance remains to be seen. Last thing Tunai wants is loss of income to Narok through any deterring on tourists. KS

Star (Kenya)

Tunai dismisses report alleging death of 26 elephants at Maasai Mara

A female elephant and her calf graze at the Maasai Mara National Reserve on May 12, 2018. /CONSOLATA MAKOKHA
A female elephant and her calf graze at the Maasai Mara National Reserve on May 12, 2018. /CONSOLATA MAKOKHA

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai has refuted claims published by an NGO based in the area that 26 elephants have died mysteriously at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in the past three months.

Addressing journalists in his office on Friday, Tunai said the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) gave a false report to the media as the statistics with the county government and Kenya Wildlife Serve (KWS) did not show such a figure.

“We have an elephant unit at the Mara tasked to protects the jumbos. They give a report every three months. The report we have is very different from what the NGO told the media,” Tunai said.

The county boss recalled that in 1983, the population of elephants at the Mara Ecosystem was only about 1,400 but the number has grown to over 3,500 as at today.

“Yes, we lose about 49 elephants per year but it is never because of poisoning. Most elephants die out of natural causes like old age and sickness,” he said adding that in the last quarter, only one elephant died out of poaching and others out of natural causes like sickness and old age.

Maasai Mara Game Reserve is under the jurisdiction of the county government. Those outside the conservation area are under the Kenya Wildlife Service.

“Maasai Mara Game reserve has for six consequently times been declared the best National park in the world and therefore, we take very seriously the report emanating from the NGO and we completely deny it,” Tunai said.

The governor added that the county rangers are well trained and equipped to protect the animals saying they collaborate with KWS to ensure the animals are safe.

The report, which trended on social media Wednesday and Thursday, claimed that of the 26 deaths, 11 were caused by poisoning.

The report was first published on the MEP website and posted on their Facebook account on December 14.

The NGO report says the poisoning may be as a result of human-wildlife conflicts.