Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Endangered black rhinos die in Kenya attempt to save them by relocation

A rhino in Kenya Friday July 13 2018 Seven rhinos die after move to a new park in Kenya A rhino in Kenya
Elijah Vega | 13 July, 2018, 22:22

In May, three black rhinos were killed in Kenya's Meru National Park.

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.

The three remaining rhinos are being monitored and given fresh water in pans, the ministry said.

The relocation of endangered animals involves putting them to sleep for the journey and then reviving them in a process which carries risks.

But the loss of half of them is highly unusual.

Paula Kahumba, of WildlifeDirect, called it "a complete disaster" and said officials must explain what went wrong.

The organization, which has conducted numerous successful moves in the past, has not said how the rhinos died.

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"This is not the first time that KWS is moving animals and so we deserve to know the cause of death of this precious animal, something must have gone wrong and we want to know what it is", said the conservationist.

"Moving rhinos is complicated, akin to moving gold bullion, it requires extremely careful planning and security due to the value of these rare animals", she said in a statement. One nonprofit, African Parks, has shipped several endangered species across the continent, including black rhinos, which it has flown from South Africa to Rwanda and Chad.

The deaths were due to salt poisoning after the animals drank water with a high salinity upon arriving in their new environment, preliminary investigations by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) veterinarians found, according to a statement from Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala.

The rhinos, who are part of a critically endangered species, died at Tsavo East National Park, the Daily Nation newspaper reported. "Rhino translocations also have major welfare considerations and I dread to think of the suffering that these poor animals endured before they died".

Estimates suggest there are fewer than 5,500 black rhinos in the world, all of them in Africa and some 750 in Kenya.

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

According to WWF, black rhino populations declined dramatically in the 20th century, mostly at the hands of European hunters and settlers. The white rhino is a near threatened species.

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