KWS lifts suspension on darting of rhinos

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) personnel on board a helicopter try to tranquillise a female black rhino before transporting it as part of a rhino translocation exercise In the Nairobi National Park, Kenya.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has lifted the suspension on darting of wildlife for disease surveillance, clinical monitoring and diagnosis.

The darting of wildlife had been suspended after the botched translocation that led to the death of 11 rhinos in Tsavo last July. KWS now says it will lift the ban to allow for diagnosis of rhinos after the deaths in the Mara Triangle.

The suspension on darting had raised fear among conservationists after three rhinos in the Mara Triangle. The rhinos are suspected to have died of a disease.

“Darting can only be done in cases of disease surveillance and clinical monitoring. We are currently doing the same on the remaining rhinos within the Mara Ecosystem after the death of three rhinos,” Paul Gathitu, the KWS corporate communications officer, said.

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KWS announced their move after stakeholders raised fear that the ban on darting to allow for collection of blood samples for disease surveillance might impact on the remaining rhinos.

Mr Gathitu said KWS had since suspended any translocation of wildlife until revised procedures are put in place following the death of 11 rhinos.

The three rhinos in Mara Triangle within the Mara Ecosystem are suspected to have died between November 12 and 19 although postmortem test results are yet to be released.

Might hamper

Last week, Mara Triangle administrator Liaram Molai said the ban on darting might hamper quick detection of diseases.

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“The Government banned darting, barring the extraction of blood from wildlife for testing, but we are still waiting for the results from the Government Chemist to know the cause of deaths to enable us to take action,” Mr Molai said.

The Service, however, said samples of 10 other rhinos remaining within the Mara would be collected for diagnosis in case of an infectious disease.

Sources had, however, revealed to The Standard that the rhinos might have died of anthrax, a contagious disease, which might also affect the remaining ones if action is not taken swiftly.

“It is suspected that the rhinos died of anthrax, that is why surveillance has been stepped up in all protected areas that host rhinos,” the source said.

Last Thursday, a stakeholders' crisis meeting was held to step up surveillance and monitoring of the remaining rhinos.

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Kenya Wildlife ServiceWildlife dartingKWSrhinos