KENYA: March 5, 2003
NAIROBI - Kenya's wildlife authorities this week started
relocating nine white rhinos to a game park in the heart of the east
African country where the rare beast was nearly wiped out in a
years ago, officials said.
The move is funded by the International Fund
for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Agence Francaise de Development
(AFD) and aims at restocking
the Meru National
Park, 230 km (140 miles) northeast of Nairobi in a bid to boost tourist visits.
"Kenya Wildlife Service is committed to making Meru a safe
and rewarding tourist destination and wildlife habitat, and to
providing the security necessary to
protect these rhinos from the threat of poachers," Michael Wamithi,
its director said.
Rhinos are killed for their horns which are used to fashion
costly dagger handles in the Middle East, and some say the horn is also
used to make
aphrodisiacs in the Far East.
In a single incident in April 1989, poachers
came at night, shot five rhinos at close range in their protected
pen, then hacked off their horns.
was only one survivor, an old bull known as Mukora, who was moved to
the Nakuru sanctuary before being re-based last year.
In 2002, seven
white rhinos were moved to Meru from Lake Nakuru National Park,
a sanctuary in which the white rhino, not native to Kenya, has
has about 190 white rhinos, authorities say.
The white rhino is differentiated
from the black rhino from its wide square mouth, large ears and
a pronounced hump. The grazer is also
compared to its browser cousin.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE