A while ago, Kenyans became suspicious when rhinos began to be moved from Nairobi National Park to Tsavo National Park.
Questions were raised as to why the operation had to be conducted in secrecy and as to whether someone was out to grab the Nairobi National Park. In fact, there were rumors that the Chinese were planning to ‘buy’ the park for ‘developmental’ use.
Among the rhinos that were moved, 14 of them were black rhinos, among the critically endangered species in the world. Given the value of their horns and skins, the rhinos are often under surveillance and their relocation to a new location raised more questions than answers.
Initially, the Kenya Wildlife Service did not give a valid reason as to why the rhinos had to be moved from their natural habitat to a new environment without any study as to whether they will survive being done.
And now, a few days after being moved, 8 of the 14 rhinos have died mysteriously in what conservationists have described as a complete disaster.
Word has it that the KWS tried to hide information about the dead rhinos was it not for the efforts from conservationists.
Preliminary investigation points to salt poisoning as the main source of the deaths. The investigations say that the rhinos died as they tried to adapt to the new salty environment.
The movement of other rhinos has since been suspended with the ‘surviving ones being closely monitored’ according to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.
It is estimated that there are only 5,500 black rhinos in the whole world with all of them being in Africa. Kenya has a total of 750 black rhinos. The process of moving them, known as translocation, was initiated by the Tourism CS Najib Balala and it involved putting them to sleep for the journey and then reviving them in a process that carries risks. 14 of them had been ‘translocated’ and more than half of them have died.
According to KWS figures, nine rhinos were killed in Kenya last year.
In May, three more were shot dead inside a specially-protected sanctuary in northern Kenya and their horns removed, while in March the last male northern white rhino on earth, an elderly bull named Sudan, was put down by Kenyan vets after falling ill.