Kenya Wildlife Service has been locked out of being part of the team probing the death of nine rhinos last week as the ministry of tourism institutes an independent probe.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, says the ministry has instituted an independent probe separate from that of a multi-sectoral team to unearth the circumstances leading to the death of the rhinos in unclear circumstances.
Balala says initial reports suggest the Rhinos could have died from possible salt poisoning or fodder, but a postmortem would give clarity on the cause of death.
“These deaths are unprecedented in KWS operations and have necessitated independent investigations, which are now underway,” the CS said.
He added “Prof. Peter Gathumbi, a Senior Veterinary Pathologist from the Department of Veterinary Pathology, Microbiology and Parasitology, University of Nairobi, travelled to Tsavo to carry out independent investigations, where he collected samples for analysis. His report is expected to be ready next week on 23 rd July 2018,”.
The probe team will include government pathologists from the government chemist, CID from the ministry of interior, veterinary doctors from University of Nairobi Rhino specialists and a member from the ministry of tourism. The report is expected to be out in a week’s time.
The rhinos were being translocated from Nairobi and Nakuru National Parks to the newly-created sanctuary in Tsavo East National Park being supported by WWF-Kenya.
The CS has further directed that the 18 Rhino horns with transmitters and chips be brought to KWS Hqs in Nairobi and from where they would be availed for viewing by the Media and other interested parties.
“I am glad to annouce that we have in safe custody and account all 18 Rhino horns from the 9 dead rhinos, equiped with transmitters and chips.
@kwskenya will avail to the media and any interested parties an oppprtunity to view & verify the horns on 19/07/2018 @ KWS Hqs, Nairobi” he stated when he visited the newly established Tsavo East National park Rhino sanctuary to get an update on the death.
Preliminary investigations by KWS veterinary teams attribute the deaths to salt poisoning as a result of taking water of high salinity on arrival in the new environment
The nine dead rhinos were among 11 that had been moved to the sanctuary in an initiative to start a new population in line with the National Rhino Conservation and Management Strategy.
A total of 14 rhinos had been planned for translocation.