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Eight Critically Endangered Black Rhinos Have Died During Move To National Park

Stuart G Porter/Shutterstock

Stuart G Porter/Shutterstock

When 14 black rhinos were moved from Nairobi to a national park in southern Kenya, something went terribly wrong, as a result, eight animals had been dead. Therefore, this project aiming to introduce the rhinos to the newly created Tsavo East National Park has now been temporally suspended and the remaining six are being kept under close watch.

The original plan to move the animals from Kenya’s capital to the park was intended to increase the number of black rhinos in the area. As a common strategy, transportation was only recently used to re-introduce black rhinos to Chad and Rwanda, but it was necessary that planning and execution should be  carefully implemented.

In a statement, Paula Kahumbu, a Kenyan conservationist who worked with WildlifeDirect, said that moving rhinos was complicated, just like moving gold bullion, such mission required planning and security in the extremely careful way because of the value of these rare animals. And rhino translocations should have major welfare considerations as well and it was fearful to think of the suffering that these poor animals endured before they died. So it was necessary to be clear about why this occurred and tried to prevent it from happening again.

When being interviewed by the Associated Press (AP), Kahumbu indicated that losing rhinos was a complete disaster. The government had been trying very hard to find the cause for  the deaths. If negligence turned out to be the reason, the government would take disciplinary action accordingly. So far, preliminary investigations suggest that salt poisoning may be to blame because the rhinos were unable to adapt to the saltier waters in the reserve, the Telegraph reports.

Based on the data provided by conservation group Save the Rhino, being regarded as a critically endangered species, only  between 5,000 and 5,500 black rhinos are estimated to be living in the wild for the time being. Compare with their white rhino counterparts, the black rhinos are smaller and rarer. However, like their relatives, they are targeted by poachers for their horns – a hot commodity in the illegal trade for traditional Asian medicine.

Although it is really a tragedy of deaths of eight rhinos, it should is also well remembered that in the most occasions, the relocation of animals are successful when carefully carried out. More importantly, such conservation programs have helped black rhino numbers recover from a low point of 2,400 or so individuals in the 1990s.

According to the AP report, there were 149 rhinos relocated around Kenya and but only eight deaths during the period of 2005 –2017.


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