Seven endangered Grevy’s zebras have reportedly been shot and killed during a gunfight between herders.
The animals died on Sunday in the Buffalo Springs Game Reserve in Isiolo County.
The bodies were found on Monday by county staff and rangers with the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Officials are blaming the deaths on a shootout between local herders.
Allafrica.com reports that some of the herders allegedly cut meat from the zebras before leaving.
Senior park warden Michael Gichure told the website that staff were following leads.
“The tourists we get in our parks are particularly coming to see the few Grévy’s zebra we have,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that they were killed by the same people who benefit from their existence.”
The game reserve is considered a key bolthole in the fight to save the species.
A conference held in Kenya late last year highlighted the plight of the Grevy’s zebra, with wildlife officials undertaking a review of measures to stem the falling population.
The population has dwindled from 15,000 in the 1970s to the around 2800 animals in the wild.
The main threats responsible for the decline are loss of range, hunting, competition with domestic livestock for critical resources, loss of access to critical resources, disease, predation, use of its products for medicinal purposes, and drought – particularly in northern Kenya.
Historically, Grevy’s Zebra were found in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, with a reported sighting in Sudan. Currently, the species is found only in Kenya and Ethiopia, with Kenya holding 90 percent of the total population.
The species’ natural range is said to have undergone one of the most dramatic constrictions of any animal species in Africa.