We warned KWS not to move the black rhinos, ex-officer claims
- According to Rotich, the donor seemed determined in seeing that the translocation occurs despite recommendations against it.
- He said the decision prompted a meeting between the Board that was in place at the time and the donor in January.
- Members allegedly maintained their position that the translocation should not proceed citing the salinity of the water.
Nehemiah Rotich has revealed that a donor insisted that the black rhinos be translocated despite recommendations against it.
According to him, the donor seemed determined in seeing that the translocation occur despite their recommendations against it.
The former Kenya Wildlife Service Chief Operating Officer (COO) said the decision to proceed with the move prompted a meeting between the Board and the donor held in January this year.
“Members of the Board maintained their position that the translocation should not proceed citing the salinity of the water,” he told Citizen TV‘s Yvonne Okwara during the Tonight show on Thursday night.
Eleven rhinos died after being relocated from Nairobi and Nakuru National Parks to the Tsavo East National Park.
Rotich further revealed that the term of the Board expired on March 17, 2018 and he only learnt about the translocation a day before it happened.
The former officer also said the decision to translocate the black rhinos was very unusual because it veered away from the regular KWS decision-making process.
“At the time there was no report to show that the parameters at the park had changed. There was no Board, only the chairman who had only been appointed,” said Mr. Rotich.
The Board would have had to review and approve the decision to translocate the black rhinos, he added.
He also revealed that the team tasked to probe the death of the 11 rhinos did not talk to him though he was part of the team that visited the sanctuary to assess the ecological conditions.
“The decision to translocate the rhinos should have been made by the Board then the Director General should have executed the decision,” said Mr. Rotich.
When asked about the minutes of an alleged Board meeting approving the translocation of the rhinos, as cited by Tourism CS Najib Balala, he responded saying:
“The approval that you heard of was the recommendations of the Board of Conservation Committee. The Board is a policy organ; it does not deal with technical issues.
“The recommendations were that the translocation of the rhinos awaits the availability or presence of favorable ecological conditions; which is the feed and the issue of saline water should be resolved. The issue of saline water has not been resolved to date,” he added.
Mr. Rotich revealed that the that his team had made trips to the sanctuary three times to assess whether the ecological conditions at the sanctuary were suitable.
He noted that during all the three trips, they found that the water was too salty for the animals to survive.
“The conditions for food material for the rhinos was very poor due to the drought at that time and the water was extremely salty; the closet I would compare it to is the water conditions and salt conditions you find at Lake Magadi,” said Mr. Rotich.
He also revealed that his team presented a report to the then KWS Board that the rhinos would not survive at the sanctuary.
Considering the fact that the animals were to be locked in pens, the ex-KWS boss stated that the black rhinos would not be free to move to alternative sources of water within the sanctuary.
The then KWS Board recommended that the translocation be halted until the recommended ecological conditions had been met.
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