Nairobi, May 3 – Poachers have killed two adult black rhinoceros and a calf in the Rhino Sanctuary in Meru National Park, Kenyan authorities reported on Thursday.

The poaching incident happened at around 6.30 p.m. on May 2, according to a press release from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. Rangers reacted to the sound of gunshots and took positions at strategic points, but the poachers managed to escape, the statement said.

“A thorough search, both aerial and ground was conducted on first light where carcasses of two adult rhinos and a calf were found with the horns missing. No sign of the gang was reported, but our teams, both covert and overt, are in hot pursuit with good leads,” it added.

Cabinet Secretary for Wildlife and Tourism Najib Balala visited the Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarters on Thursday to evaluate the security systems with a view to boosting surveillance on all fronts, including poaching and human-wildlife conflicts.

The ministry’s statement added that Kenya’s conservation efforts continue to yield results with the number of elephants rising to over 34,000 individuals — the fourth largest in the world — and the rhino population estimated at over 1,000, the third largest in the world, according to the statement.

“The poaching trend has been on a downward trend largely due to enhanced wildlife law enforcement efforts and Government investment in conservation. These efforts led to 85% reduction in rhino poaching and 78% reduction in elephant poaching, respectively, in 2017 as compared to when poaching was at its peak in 2013 and 2012, respectively. In 2017 we lost 69 elephants and nine rhinos,” it added.