Impunity: Poachers kill rhino as CS Balala set to face committee

One of the rhinos that was moved from the Nairobi National Park to a Tsavo East National Park sanctuary where 10 of them have died causing a storm in government and conservation circles. [File, Standard]
Poachers have killed another rhino at Lake Nakuru National Park barely a month after deaths of other 10 black rhinos following a disastrous translocation by the Kenya Wildlife Service to Tsavo East National Park sanctuary .

Senior warden Catherine Wambani confirmed the deaths on Tuesday, as blame game continues between Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and KWS officials over the deaths.

The rhinos died few days after being translocated from the Nairobi and Nakuru national parks, to Tsavo East National Park due to the overcrowding in the two parks, which officials say was hindering breeding.

Postmortem examination reports released by Balala said that the animals died of salt poisoning after drinking highly saline water in their new surroundings and infections.

Following the deaths, Tourism CS Najib Balala suspended six senior officers in charge of the relocation and demoted acting KWS Director-General Julius Kimani.

He demoted the acting Director General Dr Julius Kimani and replaced him with Dr Charles Musyoki who was in charge of Kenya Wildlife Service training institute in Naivasha.  Dr Kimani was sent back to his previous position as head of Parks and reserves.

He also suspended top Kenya Wildlife Service scientists and wardens. According to Balala, among the affected were Dr Samwel Kasiki who was the Deputy Director Bio-diversity and chief scientist. He has been replaced by Dr Patrick Mondi from the parent ministry. 

Also suspended were Dr Francis Gakuya who was head of veterinary and capture services, Dr Mohamed Omar, head of ecology and Dr Isaac Leekolol, a senior vet. Tsavo senior scientist Fredrick Lala and senior warden Felix Mwangagi were also affected.

The CS also abolished the post of Chief Operating Officer currently held by Nehemiah Rotich and that of advisor held by Mark Jenkins.

The National Assembly’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee has now summoned Tourism CS Najib Balala to explain how 10 rhinos died at Tsavo East National Park.

The committee’s chairman Kareke Mbiuki told a local daily that the committee is concerned about the deaths.

“We are seeing conflicting reports from the former board led by Dr Richard Leakey, management of Kenya Wildlife Service and from the CS himself. But Kenyans want to know what happened and put this matter to rest and know who is responsible,” said Mbiuki.

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black rhinosrhinostsavo east national parklake nakuru