8 rare black rhinos die from salt intake at new Kenya habitat

Mindy Sparks
July 17, 2018

Wildlife conservationists have termed the death of eight rhinos at Tsavo National Park a drawback to the conservation of the endangered animals.

The surviving rhinos are under watch and further relocations have been suspended.

Between 2005 and 2017 a total of 149 rhinos have been moved in this way, with eight deaths, a mortality figure that has now doubled.

As African wildlife numbers have plummeted because of poaching and habitat loss, conservationists and governments have increasingly turned to translocations in hopes of restoring populations in remote spots where they might be better shielded from the threats driving them to the brink elsewhere.

Kenyans are now taking the government to task over the mishap.

"Moving rhinos is complicated, akin to moving gold bullion, it requires extremely careful planning and security due to the value of these rare animals", Kahumbu said in a statement.

"Rhinos have died, we have to say it openly when it happens, not a week later or a month later". The more salty water the rhinos drank, the thirstier they became, leading to a vicious cycle, the ministry reported on July 13.

Moreover, the last three of the 14 rhinos on the relocation list will no longer be moved to the park, the ministry noted.

A Kenya Wildlife Service official checks on a female black rhinoceros headed for Tsavo-East National Park. Park management is now closely monitoring the remaining three rhinos.

Although the number of the rhinos had increased in the past two years because of the concerted effort between the government and conservation partners including communities and private landowners.

"Trans-locating wild animals of this size is a complex, challenging undertaking and not without risk".

Mohamed Awer, CEO of the conservation group WWF-Kenya, said in a statement the organisation is "devastated" that the translocation, funded in part by the WWF, resulted in the deaths of so many endangered rhinos.

Disciplinary action will be taken if the investigation of the death indicates negligence, said Tourism Minister Najib Balala.

LEAD IMAGE: Kenya Wildlife Service officials prepare to load a sedated black rhino into a transport crate on June 26, 2018.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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