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Kenya Embarks on its Biggest Rhino Relocation Project; Previous Attempt Was a Disaster
Africa Science & Health

Kenya Embarks on its Biggest Rhino Relocation Project; Previous Attempt Was a Disaster

Kenya has started its largest rhino relocation effort and began the challenging task on Tuesday of monitoring, tranquilizing, and transporting 21 of the highly endangered animals, which can weigh over 2,000 pounds each, to a different location.

In 2018, an effort to relocate rhinos in East Africa ended in failure when all 11 of the animals perished.

The most recent undertaking encountered initial difficulties. A rhinoceros that needed to be relocated was effectively tranquilized with a dart shot from a helicopter, but ultimately ended up in a stream. With the use of a rope, veterinarians and rangers kept the rhino’s head above water to ensure its safety while administering a drug to reverse the tranquilizer’s effects. Eventually, the rhino was released.

Officials who oversee wildlife have emphasized that the difficult task will require a significant amount of time, potentially several weeks.

The Kenya Wildlife Service announced that a group of black rhinos, consisting of both males and females, will be relocated from three conservation parks to the private Loisaba Conservancy in central Kenya. This move is necessary due to overpopulation in the three parks and aims to provide the rhinos with more space for roaming and potential breeding opportunities.

Reworded: Rhinos typically live alone and thrive in expansive habitats.

Kenya has had relative success in reviving its black rhino population, which dipped below 300 in the mid-1980s because of poaching, raising fears that the animals might be wiped out in a country famous for its wildlife.

The wildlife service reports that Kenya currently boasts a population of close to 1,000 black rhinos, making it the third largest in the world after South Africa and Namibia.

According to the non-profit organization Save the Rhino, there are currently only 6,487 wild rhinos remaining in Africa.

In the past ten years, Kenyan officials have moved over 150 rhinos to new locations.

In the past six years, Kenya moved eleven rhinos from Nairobi to a sanctuary in the southern part of the country. Unfortunately, all of them passed away shortly after arriving at the new sanctuary. A study revealed that ten of the rhinos died due to stress, dehydration, and starvation caused by salt poisoning as they struggled to adapt to the saltier water in their new environment. The remaining rhino was killed by a lion.

A portion of the 21 rhinos in the most recent relocation will be moved from Nairobi National Park and will travel 300 kilometers (186 miles) in a truck to reach Loisaba. Additional rhinos will come from nearby parks to join them at Loisaba.

Tom Silvester, CEO of Loisaba Conservancy, stated that the relocation of the rhinos to Loisaba holds emotional significance as the area used to be inhabited by a thriving population of black rhinos before their extinction in that location 50 years ago.

According to Kenya’s wildlife authorities, the goal is to increase the black rhino population to approximately 2,000. This number is seen as optimal given the available space in both national and private parks.