, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has called for external and independent investigations into the death of eight black rhinos at the Tsavo East National Park.
In a statement, preliminary investigations by KWS veterinary teams attribute the deaths to poisoning as a result of taking water with high salinity on arrival in the new environment.
The eight dead rhinos were among 14 that had been moved to the sanctuary in an initiative to start a new population in line with the National Rhino Conservation and Management Strategy.
“The remaining rhinos are being closely monitored by veterinary and park management teams,” said CS Balala.
“The rhinos have been provided with fresh water in temporary water pans, as we await the full post-mortem examination report and further forensic investigations,” he noted.
The termed the incident as unfortunate affirming that disciplinary action will be taken, if the findings point towards negligence or unprofessional misconduct on the part of any KWS officers.
In the meantime, the translocation exercise has been suspended pending the investigations.
Senior Veterinary Pathologist from the University of Nairobi, Peter Gathumbi, will carry out independent investigations into the incident at the Tsavo with the report expected to be released in a week’s time.
Wildlife Conservationist, Rhino Veterinarian and translocation expert from South Africa Markus Hoffmeyer will also take part in the investigations.
“We will make the investigation results public as soon as we receive them,” affirmed the CS.
The relocation 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.