, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 13 – The Kenya Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of 7 out of 14 Rhinos translocated last week to Tsavo East National Park.
A KWS official who spoke to Capital FM News in confidence, confirmed the deaths, but did not offer more details, only saying that they all died in Tsavo under unclear circumstances.
“This is a great misfortune and investigations are underway to ascertain the death of the rhinos,” said the KWS official.
Of the 14 Black Rhinos, eight were from Nairobi National Park while six were from Lake Nakuru National Park.
KWS is yet to issue an official statement on the matter after last week’s major publicity it gave to the exercise.
The translocation exercise was launched at the Ivory Burning site here in Nairobi by Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
The exercise was part of the broader plan in partnership with Wild Wide Fund for Nature-Kenya (WWF-K) to create more secure space with suitable habitat for the rhinos.
Of worth to note is the increase in rhino population.
By the end of 2017, Kenya had a rhino population of 1,258 (745 Black rhinos, 510 southern white rhinos and 3 Northern white rhinos, the only surviving northern White rhino Male died in March 2018, thus only 2 females remain) having grown from less than 400 rhinos in 1980’s.
The rise in population is attributed to concerted efforts from KWS, private landholders, communities, county Governments, local and international partners.
“However, these efforts must be sustained as the numbers remain relatively low and the species remains critically endangered,” KWS acting General Director General Julius Kimani said at the time of relocation.
“This is due to increased demand for rhino horn, inadequate financial resource, and limited secure space for expanding the rhino range.”
To achieve desired meta-population growth rates and strengthen national rhino population gene pool WWF Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Awer noted that rhino translocations and stocking density management are key biological management components.
“This is realized by translocation of unrelated individuals from different populations based on set percentage harvesting to preserve high growth for maintaining genetic diversity and rhino health in both the source and recipient population,” he said.