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SOS Rhino : In the News : Kenya game authorities move rhinos to revive park

Kenya game authorities move rhinos to revive park


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 poaching attack 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. There was only one survivor, an old bull known as Mukora, who was moved to safety at 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 thrived. Kenya 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 less aggressive compared to its browser cousin.




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