Mid this month, Kenyans woke up to the news that a total of nine black rhinos had died mysteriously days after being moved from their natural habitat to Tsavo National Park.
14 black rhinos were moved by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), eight of them died at once, the ninth after some time and now, the tenth one has died.
Black rhinos are among the critically endangered species in the world with around 750 being alive in Kenya and 5,500 in other African countries.
Given the value of their horns, black rhinos in Kenya are always under surveillance as poachers are always looking for an opportunity to kill them.
Where it all begun
The story concerning the rhinos started creeping into the limelight when the Kenya Wildlife Service, together with the Ministry of Tourism started moving them from Nairobi National Park.
Kenyans raised concerns over the fact that the operation was being conducted in secrecy. Kenyans wanted to know why the rhinos were being moved with some saying that perhaps someone was after the Nairobi Park.
The ministry explained that the rhinos were being moved under the program known as translocation which involved putting them to sleep and reviving them later, a process that carries tremendous risks.
It took the efforts of Kenyans for KWS to admit that 9 (currently 10) of the 14 rhinos that had been ‘translocated’ had died.
In a bit to answer to questions about the death of the rhinos, KWS together with the Ministry of Tourism said that the rhinos had died due to salt poisoning as they tried to adapt to the new environment.
Where are the carcasses
Kenyans have been calling on the Kenya Wildlife Service to display the carcasses of the dead rhinos with their horns intact but that is yet to be done.
The rumor in town says that the rhinos might have been killed intentionally with the sole purpose of selling the horns to the Chinese.
The 10 rhinos are dead. Yes. As Kenyans, we have accepted but where are the carcasses? Do the carcasses still have the horns intact?
There are several questions that both the ministry and KWS haven’t quite given satisfactory answers:
Najib Balala should take responsibility and President Uhuru Kenyatta must step in
The CS in charge of Tourism, Najib Balala, has been silent about the continuous death of the black rhinos. It is like their deaths mean nothing to him. It is like the deaths of the rhinos is a matter too small to attract his attention.
The truth is that we are losing our national heritage. There is no better pride of a nation than its wildlife and the continued silence from stakeholders shows how ignorant they are concerning this issue.
How can 10 black rhinos, on the list of critically endangered species, die and nobody is saying anything? It is time that CS Balala took responsibility and either explain why resign or be asked to step aside. We can no longer sit and watch our wildlife being destroyed.
President Uhuru Kenyatta should also wake up and ask his CS on what exactly happened. His silence on this issue is also deafening.