CS Balala seeks neutral probe into deaths of 8 rhinos at Tsavo

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 14, 2018

In a statement, Kenya's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, said, "Preliminary investigations by KWS veterinary teams attribute the deaths to salt poisoning as a result of taking water of high salinity on arrival in the new environment".

The rhinos that died were among 11 moved from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru national parks to a new sanctuary in Tsavo East National Park to start a new population in the area.

Nine rhinos were killed in Kenya past year, according to KWS, and in March, the world's last surviving male northern white rhino died after months of poor health.

The deaths during the relocation process were confirmed by officials speaking anonymously to AFP, although they said the reason why the animals died was not yet clear.

It has suspended the ongoing move of other rhinos with the surviving ones being closely monitored.

Kenya Wildlife Services proceeded to relocate some rhinoceroses on June 26, 2018 from Nairobi National Park to Tsavo-East National Park in an effort to repopulate habitat around the country which rhinoceros population had been decimated by poaching and harsh climatic changes.

Losing the rhinos is "a complete disaster", said prominent Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect.

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According to Cathy Dean, chief executive of Save the Rhino, the relocation of endangered animals, a process called translocation, can help prevent their extinction.

"Rhinos have died. We have to say it openly when it happens, not a week later or a month later", she said. "Rhino translocations also have major welfare considerations and I dread to think of the suffering that these poor animals endured before they died".

Save the Rhinos estimates there are fewer than 5,500 black rhinos in the world, all of them in Africa, while Kenya's black rhino population stands at 750, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature. "We have to find out what's gone wrong, so that these mistakes are never repeated".

The rhinos were among 14 KWS began moving last month from the capital Nairobi to Tsavo East.

Kenya is home to 80 percent of the black rhinos' remaining global population, Kahumbu said.

Since then the species has rebounded, although it remains extremely threatened.

In March, the last male northern white rhino on the planet, an older bull named Sudan, was put down by Kenyan vets after becoming ill.

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