Why 8 Endangered Rhinos Died in Mission to Save Them

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 17, 2018

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. Eight of the 11 that were moved to Tsavo East National Park, which is southeast of Nairobi, died. As a first step, the Ministry of Tourism ordered the suspension of the transport of perisodactyl mammals, listed as critically endangered.

"The black rhino has suffered a catastrophic 98 per cent decline in Kenya, whose population plummeted from 20,000 in the 1970s to about 350 in 1983".

Due to decades of poaching for rhino horn, the African mammal has declined almost 98 percent since 1960, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In May, six black rhinos were moved from South Africa to Chad, restoring the species to the country in north-central Africa almost half a century after it was wiped out there. Prominent Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect calls the loss of the rhinos "a complete disaster".

According to a statement from Kenya's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the rhinos were moved, or translocated, as part of a conservation initiative created to start a new population line.

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

Eight critically endangered black rhinos are dead in Kenya following an attempt to move them from the capital to a national
Eight rhinos die in Kenya after relocation | Kenya News

The ministry suspended the ongoing move of rhinos and said the surviving ones in the new park were being closely monitored.

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

In a statement posted on her Facebook page, Wildlife Direct's Kahumbu noted the risks associated with translocation, writing, "Moving rhinos is complicated and risky, akin to moving gold bullion, [and] 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".

The world's last remaining male northern white rhino died in March this year in Kenya, meaning conservationists have no option but to attempt to save that sub-species using in vitro fertilization. They are prized by poachers for their horns, and are losing their natural habitats.

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