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Seven rhinos die after move to new park in Kenya

13 July 2018

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has refused to comment on the rhinoceros deaths but, speaking on condition of anonymity, one official said, "Seven of the rhinos died but it has not been established as to why".

The three remaining rhinos are being monitored and given fresh water in pans, the ministry said.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) transported critically endangered animals from Nairobi to Tsavo East National Park in the country's southeast last month, to boost the population of the beasts there, it said.

Conservationists in Africa have been working hard to protect the black rhino sub-species from poachers targeting them for their horns to supply an illegal Asian market.

"The minister has to say there has been a disaster, rhinos have died". Fourteen of the animals were to be moved in all.

The government called for an independent investigation and said disciplinary action would be taken if findings point to "negligence or unprofessional misconduct" by KWS staff, he said. Eight of those died, not including the black rhinos at Tsavo East. 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. "Rhino translocations also have major welfare considerations and I dread to think of the suffering that these poor animals endured before they died".

The deaths were due to salt poisoning after the animals drank water with a high salinity upon arriving in their new environment, preliminary investigations by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) veterinarians found, according to a statement from Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala.

Nine rhinos were killed in Kenya past year, according to KWS, and in March, the world's last surviving male northern white rhino died after months of poor health.

According to WWF, black rhino populations declined dramatically in the 20th century, mostly at the hands of European hunters and settlers.

Since then the species has rebounded, although it remains extremely threatened.

As African wildlife numbers have plummeted due to poaching and habitat loss, conservationists and governments have increasingly turned to translocations in hopes of restoring populations in remote spots where they might be better shielded from the threats driving them to the brink elsewhere.

Save the Rhinos estimates there are fewer than 5,500 black rhinos in the world, all of them in Africa.

Seven rhinos die after move to new park in Kenya