(Photo courtesy of worldwildlife.org)
The International Rhino Foundation has called a recent incident that resulted in the deaths of 8 rhinos, a conservation tragedy. The black rhinos that died were being translocated to a wildlife park in Southern Kenya from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru national parks, near Kenya’s capital, to the Tsavo East park. Initial reports indicate the rhinos died from drinking salt contaminated water at their new home.
These deaths would be tragic enough, but the significance is heightened by the black rhino ranking as Earth’s third most endangered species. There are only 5,000-5,500 of these creatures left.
There always are risks involved in translocating an animal. When moving a rhino, it must be kept asleep with sedatives, and then airlifted to its new location. The Kenyan government states it has been successful in previous attempts, moving 149 rhinos between 2005 and 2017.
This translocation went awry after the rhinos arrived at their new park. So far, necropsies and investigations, already conducted, have determined the animals did, indeed, die of salt poisoning. There is no question these poisonings could have been avoided.
There has been a demand for an immediate explanation of what went wrong, and how it will be prevented in the future. The public has a right to know, and more importantly, the black rhino has a right to survive. More information will be reported as investigations continue, and the results are released.