Critically endangered black rhinos die during relocation

17 July, 2018, 05:39 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Kenya's bid to save endangered black rhinos backfires after eight die in a new location

The black rhino deaths were "unprecedented" in over a decade of relocation efforts by the Kenyan Wildlife Service to save the vanishing species, said officials.

Preliminary investigations suggest the rhinos suffered from salt poisoning as they adapted to water with higher saline levels than they were accustomed to, according to tourism and wildlife minister Najib Balala.

The eight dead rhinos were among 11 that were moved last month to Tsavo East National Park, where wildlife officials hoped they would start a new population.

Eight critically endangered black rhinoceroses died after being moved from parks near Kenya's capital to a sanctuary in a national park in the country's southeast, the government said Friday. Dean says losing this many rhinos will have a "massive" conservation implications, as losing even eight animals out of such a small remaining population can disrupt breeding and translocation efforts.

Paula Kahumbu, the CEO of the nonprofit organization WildlifeDirect, called the deaths "a major conservation tragedy - not just for Kenya but for all rhinos".

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The world's black rhino population declined by 98 percent from 1960 to 1995, dropping to a historic low of fewer than 2,500, because of the impact of European hunters and settlers, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Conservation efforts have helped double the black rhino population since then, and it now stands at more than 5,000, which is still considered critically endangered.

The New York Times' Julia Jacobs writes that poachers target black rhinos for their horns, which serve as status symbols and ingredients in traditional Chinese medicines.

"It's surprising because [Kenya Wildlife Service] has conducted many successful large scale translocations of rhinos before".

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

The surviving translocated rhinos are also "being provided with fresh water in temporary water pans as we await the full postmortem examination report and further forensic investigations", the ministry said. "It requires extremely careful planning and security due to the value of these rare animals". "We need to know what went wrong so that it never happens again".

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