At least seven endangered black rhinos die in Kenya after relocation

At least seven endangered black rhinos die in Kenya after relocation

Dean says losing this many rhinos will have a "massive" conservation implications, as losing even eight animals out of such a small remaining population can disrupt breeding and translocation efforts.

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.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the number of black rhinos fell dramatically in the 20th century, mostly as a result of European hunters and settlers.

A preliminary report said the animals contracted salt poisoning when they tried to adapt to water with saline levels higher than the water to which they were accustomed, Kenyan wildlife minister Najib Balala said. The organization, which has conducted numerous successful moves in the past, has not said how the rhinos died.

The black rhinos were moved from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru national parks to Tsavo East last month in an operation trumpeted Balala. Between 1960 and 1995 numbers decreased by 98 percent, to less than than 2,500.

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According to the Kenyan ministry's statement, Peter Gathumbi, a senior veterinary pathologist at the University of Nairobi, has been tasked with carrying out an independent investigation of the botched relocation.

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". The ministry had plans to translocate three more rhinos to the park but has since suspended them.

The rhinos were being moved to Tsavo East National Park to establish a black rhino population. But he said he had ordered internal and external investigations to determine the exact cause of death, adding that "disciplinary action" would be taken if the probes point to negligence or wrongdoing by Kenyan Wildlife Service officers.

LEAD IMAGE: Kenya Wildlife Service officials prepare to load a sedated black rhino into a transport crate on June 26, 2018.

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