Conservationists have demanded an investigation into the cause of death of nine rhinos at Tsavo East National Park.
They made the call even as the Kenya Wildlife Service yesterday displayed 18 horns to disapprove claims that they had been sold.
The rhinos were moved from Nairobi National Park, but died on arrival at Tsavo, sparking public outrage and speculation on the cause of death.
Wildlifedirect Communication Manager Patricia Sewe termed the deaths a blow to efforts made towards the conservation of endangered species.
“We are so shocked and we need to know what went wrong during the whole process,” said Ms Sewe. She called for a speedy investigation to unearth the root cause of the problem to prevent future deaths.
“We need to know what went wrong because we have had these translocation exercises, and this is the first instance we have lost a record nine rhinos in one exercise,” she added.
Wildlifedirect Chief Executive Officer Paula Kahumbu took to twitter to express her dismay.
“Very sad to hear that another rhino has died in Kenya’s translocation…no words,” Dr Kahumbu said referring to reports of the latest animal to die raising the toll to nine.
Claims have since emerged that the site chosen for the translocation was very poor and even the wild rhinos in the area did not even go to the nearby waterholes since the water was salty.
KWS rhino programmes coordinator Linus Kariuki said they displayed the horns as a sign of transparency. Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala attributed the deaths to salt poisoning.