A KWS ranger was Monday night shot dead by suspected poachers after an exchange of fierce fire as the latter tried to forcefully gain entry into Ol-Jogi ranch in a rhino hunting mission.
The 25-year-old Paul Harrison Lelesepei was in company of other rangers guarding the rhino sanctuary when they were attacked by the poachers.
Confirming the incident, KWS senior warden in charge of Mt. Kenya region, Aggrey Maumo, said that the rangers were patrolling the ranch along the borderline adjacent to the Lol-daiga hills when they were ambushed by the poachers.
Maumo said that a gun fight ensued and it was then that the ranger was caught in the crossfire; he later succumbed to the bullet wound as he was being rushed to the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The body was taken to Nanyuki hospital mortuary.
He noted that on the fateful night there were two groups of poachers in the region, one group had already gained access into the ranch while the other was still outside, the rangers, without the knowledge of another group inside, opened fire to the group outside, with both groups returning fire, thus sandwiching the rangers.
However, the rangers still managed to overwhelm the antagonists, who beat a hasty retreat; no arrest have been made so far though there are some potential leads that could lead to the arrest of the notorious gang.
Maumo further said that all rhino sanctuaries in Laikipia have become a target for poachers, with Ol-Jogi being the worst hit, already having five rhinos killed in the past six months.
Last week, KWS wildlife conservation deputy director, Robert Njue, noted that rhino poaching will be countered using all security arsenal available and urged the public to volunteer intelligence report that can lead to arrest of poachers.
Njue said that they have deployed rangers to all sanctuaries in the region to counter poaching activities, adding that the fight against poaching also includes all security personnel; including police, Kenya policereservists and community rangers.