Balala to make findings of inquiry on rhino deaths in Tsavo public

July 26, 2018 10:08 am
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Balala had instructed KWS management to keep off the investigations in the spirit of transparency/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is Thursday set to make public the findings of an inquest into the unprecedented deaths of nine rhinos out of eleven translocated to the Tsavo East National Park.

Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala had on Tuesday last week promised to release the report on Monday after announcing the formation of a probe team headed by an officer from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

Balala who had visited the national park last week said two remaining were being monitored closely adding that they had not shown any sign of ill-health.

“We’ve confirmed this morning that the two surviving rhinos are in good health. One was seen in Maungu yesterday and the other was around the sanctuary that had been set up for them this, this morning,” he reported during a media briefing at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters.

Balala had instructed KWS management to keep off the investigations in the spirit of transparency.

“All reports should not come to the KWS. They should be brought to me. KSW have to withdraw because if we want an independent investigation, it is important that KSW is not involved,” the CS ordered.

Capital FM News broke the news of the demise of eight out of eleven rhinos that had been moved to Tsavo East National Park; eight having been relocated from the Nairobi National Park and six from the Nakuru National Park, on July 13 amid secrecy by the wildlife agency.

A total of 14 rhinos had been earmarked for relocation.

Following the uncommon deaths, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife issued a statement suspending the relocation exercise which was being undertaken by the KWS in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Although preliminary reports pointed to high salinity of water as the probable cause of the deaths of the nine translocated rhinos, CS Balala said the probe team will particularly seek to establish if there was negligence of the part of officers managing the translocation exercise.

According to Balala, KWS wardens at the Tsavo East National Park said the nine rhinos that died had registered an increased uptake of water, signalling abnormal dehydration rates.

Translocation exercises in the past have recorded impressive success rates with only eight mortalities out of 149 rhinos relocated between 2005 and 2017.

Official records have also shown high success rates in the recent months with a single mortality being reported out of 74 rhinos relocated between July 2017 and February 2018.

Balala said all the 18 horns of the nine rhinos that died at the Tsavo East National Park had been secured awaiting transportation to KWS headquarters.

“The beauty is that all these horns have transmitters and electronic chips so we can actually verify,” he revealed.

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