Recent efforts towards the conservation of endangered rhinoceroses in Kenya include re-introduction of the animals into regions where they occurred previously. These efforts have however been hampered by mortalities of translocated animals. The current study was undertaken to determine the cause of deaths amongst black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum), which were re-introduced into Meru National Park. Out of 28 translocated rhinoceroses, 7 (3 white and 4 black) (25%), died 3 months post translocation. At post-mortem, the carcasses of these animals were emaciated and heavily infested with ticks of different species. Further studies were conducted to determine the occurrence of hemoparasites in two sick black rhinoceroses and one white rhino. The density of tsetse flies and species of ticks present at the locality were also determined. The sick black rhinoceros were found to harbour mixed infections of T. congolense, T. simiae spp, and T. godfreyi, Theileria spp. and microfilaria. One of the sick black rhinos which never recovered presented very low packed cell volume and total protein levels. The tick species observed in all rhinos included Amblyomma, Rhipicephalus and Boophilus. The total number of Glossina pallidipes Austen and G.brevipalpis Newstead flies trapped per trap per day were 395 and 25, respectively. The tsetse density was considered very high and species distribution overlapped in the sanctuary. The study shows that the rhinos could have died from a co-infection of various haemoparasites. Control of tsetse flies should be implemented and its effectiveness regularly evaluated before and after translocation of rhinoceroses into areas known to be endemic for trypnaosomosis.
|Publication status||Published - 2011|