"The black rhino has suffered a catastrophic 98 per cent decline in Kenya, whose population plummeted from 20,000 in the 1970s to about 350 in 1983".
The black rhinos were moved from Nairobi and Lake Nakuru national parks to Tsavo East last month in an operation trumpeted Balala.
At the end of 2017, Kenya's wildlife ministry estimated the country's black rhino population stood at roughly 745.
Conservation of black rhinos started in early 1980s when they were confined to protected areas to keep them away from poachers.
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Eight critically endangered black rhinos have died in Kenya while being transported by the state wildlife service between two national parks, Tourism Minister Najib Balala said on Friday in a statement. Prominent Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect calls the loss of the rhinos "a complete disaster".
The number of African black rhinos dropped almost 98 percent from 1960 to 1995 before conservation efforts began to slowly rebuild the population. The translocation of the rhinos has since been stopped.
In a statement posted on her Facebook page, Wildlife Direct's Kahumbu noted the risks associated with translocation, writing, "Moving rhinos is complicated and risky, akin to moving gold bullion, [and] it requires extremely careful planning and security due to the value of these rare animals". Government officials say an investigation is underway and that "disciplinary action will definitely be taken, if the findings point towards negligence or unprofessional misconduct on the part of any [Kenya Wildlife Service] officers". "We need to know what went wrong so that it never happens again", she added.
The surviving animals in the new park are being closely monitored.
In May, three more were shot dead inside a specially-protected sanctuary in northern Kenya and their horns removed, while in March the last male northern white rhino on earth, an elderly bull named Sudan, was put down by Kenyan vets after falling ill.