CS Balala suspends KWS officials over death of 10 rhinos


CS Balala suspends KWS officials over death of 10 rhinos
Tourism CS Najib Balala addressing the press following the death of the last rhino translocated from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru National Parks to Tsavo East National Park Rhino Sanctuary.

In Summary

  • In a statement to newsrooms on Thursday, Tourism CS Balala termed the grounds for the suspension of the six officials as “unacceptable professional negligence,.”
  • He added disciplinary action would be taken against them as deemed appropriate by the Board of KWS.
  • The CS also appointed three officers to the KWS, among them Dr. Charles Musyoki, who is currently the Principal of the KWS Training Institute, as the acting Director-General.

Tourism CS Najib Balala has suspended six officials of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) following the death of 10 black rhinos that were translocated from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru National Parks to Tsavo East National Park Rhino Sanctuary.

In a statement to newsrooms on Thursday, the CS termed the grounds for the suspension of the six officials as “unacceptable professional negligence,” adding that disciplinary action would be taken against them as deemed appropriate by the KWS board.

The suspended officials are:

  1. Dr. Samuel Kasiki (Deputy Director Biodiversity, Research & Monitoring) – accused of poor co-ordination between various research line departments and its field and HQ staff, thereby hampering the proper decision making in execution of the exercise.
  2. Dr. Francis Gakuya (Head of Veterinary and Capture Services) – accused of failing to advise the Director General to stop the Nakuru rhino translocation and showing total disregard to the welfare of the animals.
  3. Dr. Isaac Leekolol (Head of Capture Services) – accused of improper care of the animals at the holding BOMA with total disregard of the welfare of the animals.
  4. Mr. Felix Mwangangi (Senior Warden Tsavo East) – accused of showing total disconnect on the exercise between Tsavo East National Park management and the capture operation team at the sanctuary.
  5. Dr. Mohammed Omar (Head of Ecological Monitoring) – accused of failing to provide the salinity level monitoring to the translocation planning team.
  6. Fredrick Odock Lala (Senior Scientist Tsavo) – was responsible for advising and monitoring of all aspects of suitability of the area.

He also, subsequently, appointed three officers to the KWS, among them Dr. Charles Musyoki, who is currently the Principal of the KWS Training Institute, as the acting Director-General.

Dr. Patrick Omondi, who is the Director Research, Monitoring and Strategic Initiatives at the State Department of Wildlife, was appointed the acting Director of Biodiversity Division while Mr. Julius Kimani is set to revert to his previous position as Director of Parks and Reserves.

CS Balala further attributed the deaths of the rhinos as multiple stress syndrome intensified by salt poisoning and complicated by the following conditions: dehydration, starvation, proliferation of opportunistic bacteria in upper respiratory tract (Pasteurella species), gastric ulcers and gastritis.

“The independent inquiry further showed there were areas of clear negligence that occurred post translocation at the release site in Tsavo, especially in the holding BOMA at the sanctuary,” read the statement.

“These included poor co-ordination and communication among officers that were responsible for pre-translocation studies, including biomass assessments; environmental impact assessments and water quality assessments.”

Balala further directed the KWS Board to comprehensively examine the general weaknesses in the command and control structure of the organization.

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