by Ben Ochieng
NAIROBI, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers are pursuing suspected poachers who on Monday killed a female rhino and cut away its horns in a private sanctuary in central Kenya.
KWS spokesman Paul Gathitu said the game rangers also rescued a rhino calf, which was found next to the carcass of its mother in Solio Ranch.
"An ongoing operation had earlier picked unidentified footprints of suspected poachers who infiltrated the private sanctuary, and with additional aerial support, we discovered a separate rhino carcass estimated at three weeks old, with horns removed," Gathitu said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
He said the aerial support aided the discovery of the calf which has since been attended to by KWS veterinary doctors and is recovering.
"KWS has intensified security operations within the ranch and all efforts have been directed at bringing the perpetrators of the crime to book," Gathitu said.
He said that following the incident, KWS rangers countrywide have been put on high alert to prevent an upsurge of poaching.
"We are calling upon the public to volunteer information to help put an end to this practice by actions of criminals out to destroy Kenya's wildlife resources for individual gain," Gathitu said.
Poaching for the illegal trade in rhino horn has continued to undermine rhino conservation successes that were made in the last two decades in Africa.
Over the last two years, poaching had declined in Kenya, and for the first time since 2008, the numbers of rhinos poached in the country reached an all-time low.
However, conservationists have expressed concerns about the recent surge in poaching in Kenya.