Kenya black rhinos saga: Who is fooling who?


A female black Rhino stands in a box before being transported during rhino translocation exercise ...
A female black Rhino stands in a box before being transported during rhino translocation exercise In the Nairobi National Park, Kenya, June 26, 2018. Photo/REUTERS

In Summary

  • The Union of Veterinary Practitioners of Kenya are demanding that CS Balala take responsibility for the botched translocation.
  • They are accusing him of abusing his office by suspending six veterinary officers.
  • A statement attributed to former KWS chairman Richard Leakey claimed that the Board had not sanctioned the move.

The disastrous translocation of 11 black rhinos that led to their subsequent deaths has sparked a storm at the Tourism Ministry and the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Tourism CS Najib Balala and officials linked to the move are engaged in a blame game with some of them alluding to foul play.

Balala places the blame squarely on the KWS Board who he claims did not follow protocol when sanctioning the moving of the black rhinos.

A statement from KWS released on Friday evening further stirred the controversy after criticizing former chairman Richard Leakey.

“The KWS Board of Trustees approved the translocation of 14 black rhinos in a meeting held on October 31, 2017 subject to the management’s proposal to allow time for the forage to be adequate and appropriate water salinity,” the statement reads.

It adds that the decision to move the Kenya black rhinos was made subject to this conditional approval.

The clap back comes after a statement attributed to Leakey claimed that the Board had not sanctioned the move and was being used as a scape goat.

“The Board directed that NO translocation should occur unless these two matters were adequately addressed to the Board’s satisfaction. Management was told a firm NO,” the statement reads.

The rhinos were translocated from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru National Parks to Tsavo East National Park Rhino Sanctuary.

Nine of them died in one go while the other two were reported dead a few days later.

The Union of Veterinary Practitioners of Kenya are demanding that CS Balala take responsibility for the botched translocation.

They are accusing him of abusing his office by suspending six veterinary officers.

Samuel Kahiriri, the union’s chairman, said the work of assessing the salt levels — which was alleged to have killed the black rhinos — was not their responsibility.

On Friday, KWS responded to the union saying: “We have noted with concern the issues raised….the gravity of the death of the ten rhinos is a matter of national concern which the Union needs to give the seriousness it deserves.”

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