The last of 11 black rhinos translocated to a newly established sanctuary at the Tsavo East National Park in Kenya has died. The animal is believed to have died from injuries after it was attacked by a lion about a fortnight ago, according to Kenya’s Daily Nation.
Under normal circumstances, an adult rhino would be able to defend itself against a lion, but in this case the rhino was weakened by drinking salty water – the cause of the deaths of 10 rhinos moved to Tsavo National Park during the month of July. The Park’s water supply has a significantly higher salt content than the rhinos were used to and eight of the 11 translocated animals died shortly after drinking it.
Experts say the death of the 11 rhinos is a devastating blow to the survival of the critically endangered species. They are surprised by the deaths because Kenya Wildlife Service has conducted many successful translocations of rhinos in the past. The loss of a single animal during a translocation is considered acceptable, but the loss of 11 animals is a major step backwards for the country and the species.
“It is nothing short of a tragedy,” said David Barritt, spokesman for the Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby). “As a result of decades of poaching for rhino horn, numbers of rhinos have plummeted across Africa. There are only about 5 000 black rhinos left in Africa and about 745 live in Kenya.”