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Seven rare black rhino reported dead in Tsavo East National Park | Coastweek
LAKE NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Black rhino in the Lake Nakuru National Park in the rift valley of Kenya. The lake's abundance of algae attracts a vast quantity of flamingos that famously lined the shore. Other birds also flourish in the area, as do warthogs, baboons and other large mammals. Eastern black rhinos and southern white rhinos have also been introduced. XINHUA PHOTO - CHEN CHENG

Seven rare black rhino reported dead in Tsavo East National Park

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Seven black rhinos have died at the Tsavo East National Park following translocation by wildlife conservationists late last month, wildlife official said on Friday.

A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) official who did not want to be named said the seven rhinos which were being moved from Nairobi National Park to Tsavo East National Park died in unclear circumstances but noted that efforts are underway to establish the cause.

A senior official at the World Wide Fund (WWF) which partnered with the KWS to translate the rhinos expressed concern about the loss.

"We are extremely concerned to hear reports that seven black rhinos have died in Tsavo East National Park after being moved from Nairobi and Nakuru National Parks as part of a translocation program by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)," WWF-Kenya CEO Mohamed Awer said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

A total of 14 rhinos were translocated from the Nairobi and Nakuru National Parks to Tsavo East National Park in a new rhino sanctuary in an exercise which was launched on June 26.

The sanctuary in the expansive park is a joint effort between KWS and WWF.

KWS is yet to comment on the death of the rhinos.

"Translocating wild animals of this size is extremely challenging and not without risk, but black rhinos are under enormous threat so efforts to try and better protect them, such as translocations, are crucial for future generations," Awer said.

"WWF is in contact with KWS to confirm the full situation and offer our support in launching an urgent independent assessment of what happened," said Awer.

According to KWS, Kenya had at the end of 2017, a rhino population of 1,258 having grown from less than 400 rhinos in 1980s.

Unrestrained poaching in the 70’s and 80’s occasioned a substantial deterioration in the rhino population, from upwards of 20,000 to approximately 300 individuals in 1989.

The surviving rhinos are being corralled into fortified sanctuaries with the aim of enhancing breeding.
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UPDATE:

Kenya Wildlife Service investigates death of eight black rhinos

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Friday confirmed the death of eight black rhinos at the country’s Tsavo East National Park, saying it has launched investigations into the deaths.

Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, said the latest mortality rate is unprecedented in the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) operations, prompting him to order for the invitation of external and independent investigations.

"Preliminary investigations by KWS veterinary teams attribute the deaths to salt poisoning as a result of taking water of high salinity on arrival in the new environment," Balala said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

He said these findings are consistent with cases of salt poisoning in other animal species, indicating a challenge in the translocated rhinos’ adaptation to the change from fresh water to saline water in the sanctuary.

"The high salt levels lead to dehydration that triggers thirst mechanism, resulting in excess water intake of the saline water that further exacerbates the problem," he said.

The CS said the eight were part of a crash of 11 rhinos that had been moved to the sanctuary in an initiative to start a new population in an exercise carried out by KWS and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

"Disciplinary action will definitely be taken, if the findings point towards negligence or unprofessional misconduct on the part of any KWS officers," Balala warned.

Rhinos are among the most endangered species in the world.

Balala has also directed the KWS to immediately suspend the ongoing translocation of black rhinos following the deaths. A total of 14 rhinos had been planned to be translocated.

He said rhino translocation and immobilization for various management purposes in Kenya has been a success story with very low mortality rates over the years.

"Between 2005 and 2017, 149 rhinos have been translocated with eight mortalities, excluding the current deaths in Tsavo East National Park where 11 were translocated with eight fatalities. "

Meanwhile, wildlife conservationists have called for speedy investigations into the death of the black rhinos.

Paula Kahumbu, CEO of Kenyan conservation NGO WildlifeDirect, said the latest incident is the worst disaster ever recorded in the East African nation.

"It’s surprising because KWS has conducted many successful large scale translocations of rhinos before.

"Losing one in 15 is an acceptable loss - but never have we seen such huge losses," Kahumbu said.

She called for the translocation exercise to be put on hold until the matter is fully addressed.

"Moving rhinos is complicated and risky, akin to moving gold bullion.

"It requires extremely careful planning.

"But unlike gold, rhino translocation also have major welfare considerations," she said.

According to KWS, Kenya had at the end of 2017 a rhino population of 1,258 (745 black rhinos, 510 southern white rhinos and three northern white rhinos, which was reduced to two after the death of the only male northern white rhino in March), having grown from fewer than 400 rhinos in the 1980s.

Unrestrained poaching in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in a substantial deterioration in the rhino population, from over 20,000 to approximately 300 individuals in 1989.

The surviving rhinos are being corralled into fortified sanctuaries with the aim of enhancing breeding.
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SEE ALSO:

KWS translocate Black Rhino from Nairobi National Park to Tsavo East

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FURTHER READING:

Eight Black Rhinos die after re-location to Tsavo East national park in Kenya

             

 

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