NAIROBI, KENYA - Kenya's ministry of tourism and wildlife says another rhinoceros has died from drinking salty water at a new sanctuary in a national park. The black rhino was the 10th to die since being transferred to the park earlier this month. Yet another rhino at the sanctuary was injured after being attacked by lions.
Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, Tourism and Wildlife Minister Najib Balala gave details on the latest rhino casualties in Tsavo National Park.
"Unfortunately yesterday the 10th rhino died, and we have just done the postmortem, and we have the result of the postmortem," Balala said. "Also, unfortunately, the eleventh rhino has been attacked by lions yesterday was treated and so far we are monitoring that eleventh rhino. It's a sad situation of what has happened."
A total of 14 black rhinos were sent to the new park four weeks ago. Government findings show the rhinos died of drinking salty water from boreholes.
The black rhinos were moved to the new park with the goal of increasing their population and also to move them to a safer place away from poachers.
Rhino numbers have dropped in recent years, mainly due to poaching. Poachers kill the animals to satisfy the black market for rhino horn, which is wanted in Asia as a status symbol and for the false belief it has healing qualities.
According to the non-profit group Save the Rhino, more than 7,200 African rhinos have been lost to poaching during the past decade.
In regards to the latest deaths, Balala said the rhinos were not killed for their horns, but said there was negligence and lack of communication by the Kenya Wildlife Service officers at the Tsavo national park.
"I am told all the rhino carcasses decomposed immediately because of the salt poisoning done by the boreholes," Balala said. "So all this are part of the responsibility that KWS has failed as officers, and we are taking action on them."
Six KWS officials have been suspended in connection with the rhino deaths.