8 rare black rhinos die from salt intake at new Kenya habitat

Eight of 14 rare black rhinoceroses moved to a different habitat in Kenya last week died of excessive salt intake, officials said. Photo courtesy World Wildlife Fund

July 14 (UPI) — More than half of the rare black rhinoceroses relocated last week to a Kenya wildlife park have died under unclear circumstances, officials said Friday.

About 5,000 black rhinos remain in the wild worldwide, and about 650 are in Kenya, the World Wildlife Fund said. They are prized by poachers for their horns, and are losing their natural habitats.

Fourteen were moved last week from the wild to a new home in Kenya’s Tsavo east rhino sanctuary. Eight have died.

A preliminary report said the animals contracted salt poisoning when they tried to adapt to water with saline levels higher than the water to which they were accustomed, Kenyan wildlife minister Najib Balala said.

Balala added the high salt levels could have led to dehydration and led to “excess water intake” that would worsen the rhinos’ health.

Additional relocation has been halted.

Kenya successfully moved 149 rhinos, a policy suited to restoring populations in remote places and shielding them from threats, between 2005 and 2017.


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