The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was on Tuesday thrown into panic after a video clip showing residents of Ruiri in Meru County slashing an elephant went viral on social media.
The video shows people with pangas slashing the elephant ostensibly for a slice of meat as the animal struggles to stand. It is not clear when the incident happened.
But KWS acting head of corporate Ngugi Gecaga confirmed that the incident took place early 2018 although he did not give the exact date.
He said when the incident was reported and KWS officers rushed to the scene and found the animal in distress having been slashed with pangas.
“The animal had been injured so it could not walk and the residents took advantage of its immobility and descended on it,” Mr Gecaga told Nation in a telephone interview.
“When our officers arrived there, the residents took off and we did not arrest anyone. Since the animal was seriously injured we were forced to put it down and remove the tusks,” he said.
“At the moment we don’t know the motive behind releasing of the video after nearly two years and we are trying to establish its origin and identify the individuals so that we can make arrests,” Mr Gecaga added.
Mr Justus Nyamu, executive director of Elephant Centre and honorary warden Mount Kenya region took to social media to condemn the act, terming it “barbaric”
“The video is disheartening and it is unfortunate that Kenyans can kill an animal like that. It is barbaric, heinous act and we condemn it,” said Mr Nyamu in a video posted on Facebook.
Mr Nyamu, who is also the founder of Tusk Belongs to the Elephant movement, called on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate the incident and bring those who were involved to book.