Top KWS officers suspended over black rhino deaths

KWS Rangers

Nairobi, KENYA: Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has suspended six top Kenya wIldlife officers with immediate effect.

Addressing the media in Nairobi on Thursday, Balala indicated that he has suspended the officers following the death of 10 Rhinos out of 14 which were translocated from Nairobi and Nakuru National Parks to Tsavo National Park.

Balala indicated that he was prompted to take action against the officers after preliminary reports indicated that the Rhinos’death was occasioned with Multiple stress Syndrome intensified by salt poisoning and complicated by dehydration and starvation.

Balala indicated that investigators found gross misconduct by officers in handling the translocation exercise of the Rhinos to Tsavo.

Some of the officers who were affected by the purge include Dr. Samuel Kasiki, Deputy Director of biodiversity research and monitoring who CS claims that he handled the coordination of research of the whole exercise poorly.

Dr. Francis Gakuya head of veterinary who was accused of disregarding the checklist of the pre-translocation exercise and failed to halt Nakuru rhino translocations to Tsavo.

Others include Felix Mwangangi who is senior warden at Tsavo East, Dr. Mohammed Omar head of ecological monitoring unit, ultimately Fredrick Lala senior scientist at Tsavo.

Balala pointed out that the affected officers will be suspended pending investigation of the matter.

Meanwhile, Balala appointed Dr. Charles Musyoki as the acting director general of KWS, Dr. Charles Omondi as acting director of biodiversity division and Julius Kimani to revert to his previous position as director of parks and reserves.

The investigations were carried out by multi-agency including the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, veterinary department and other independent players.

Balala said that the 10th Rhino died on Wednesday while the other 11th is on its knees after an attack by the lion in the park.

The translocation exercise was carried out in the month of June this year.