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

16 Juillet, 2018, 13:06 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Eight critically endangered black rhinos died following an attempt to move them from Kenya's capital Nairobi to a national park hundreds of kilometers away

Seven black rhinos are dead after a botched relocation by Kenya Wildlife Service, the Daily Nation newspaper reported on Friday. "This is a major conservation tragedy, not just for Kenya but for all rhinos".

The organisation, which has conducted numerous successful moves in the past, has not said how the rhinos died. "We have to find out what's gone wrong, so that these mistakes are never repeated".

"Translocating wild animals of this size is extremely challenging and not without risk", Awer said, "but black rhinos are under enormous threat so efforts to try and better protect them, such as translocations, are crucial for future generations". KWS aims to create a national herd of 830 black rhinos by the end of 2021.

In May, three black rhinos were killed in Kenya's Meru National Park. Both the travel and adjustment to a new environment make translocation a delicate process.

Balala added the high salt levels could have led to dehydration and led to "excess water intake" that would worsen the rhinos' health.

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"We invited Prof Peter Gathumbi, a Senior Veterinary Pathologist from University of Nairobi, to Tsavo to carry out independent investigations, where he collected samples on July 12 and would present his report in a week's time", he said.

He said the findings are consistent with cases of salt poisoning in other animal species, indicating the change from fresh water to saline water in the sanctuary.

Poachers hunt black rhinos for their horns, which are coveted for traditional Chinese medicinal practices and are displayed as status symbols.

According to KWS figures, nine rhinos were killed in Kenya a year ago. Kenyan vets put Sudan down, after he became ill.

Kenya is home to the remaining 80 percent of these animals' world population.

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