Nairobi wildlife enthusiasts were in a panic yesterday when word got round that the Kenya Wildlife Service was removing a male rhino from the Nairobi National Park to an unknown destination. Frantic calls, emails, tweets and Facebook postings by concerned wildlife lovers who expressed fears the KWS was taking the rhino to a private game sanctuary were only allayed when the park’s senior warden Mark Cheruiyot said the rhino was being translocated to the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary.
Cheruiyot said the rhino, which was brought to Nairobi from the 49,000 acre Mugi Ranch in Laikipa last December, had not settled well and was yet to establish its own territory. “It was fighting other rhinos and moving outside the park into Kitengela in search of territory,” he said.
He said the rhino had also become too accustomed to people and was therefore in danger of straying into Kitengela and other built up areas adjacent to the park. “With the recent increase in poaching incidents, it is not safe for the rhino to be left to wander out there. Neither is it safe for people,” he explained.
His explanation did not seem to mollify the concerned animal lovers one of whom posted the following comment on their Facebook wall: “Impala is a captive animal facility. There are no rhinos here to breed. Why not move it to another park or sanctuary?” Cheruiyot said relocation of the rhino was to enrich the sanctuary and boost tourism in the western circuit. “People in the region also need to know what a rhino looks like,” he said.