Eight endangered rhinos have died after a move to a new park in Kenya. Per the AP, the black rhinos died in what Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu calls "a complete disaster" after they were relocated from two locations to Tsavo East National Park last month. Officials suspect salt poisoning as the cause, pointing to higher salinity in water sources in their new home. When the saltier water made the rhinos thirsty, they likely drank even more, possibly leading to their deaths, the country's Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said in a statement. The rhinos were among 11 moved to the park, and officials said the surviving animals are being closely monitored. The planned relocation of other rhinos to the park has been suspended.
As the Guardian notes, the Save the Rhino organization estimates the total world population of black rhinos at around 5,500. The species is targeted by poachers who aim to collect their horns for the black market in Asia. Moving endangered animals from one sanctuary to another is called translocation and is done in hopes of establishing healthy populations in new areas. While deaths can and do occur with such moves, officials say a death rate of this magnitude is uncommon. Kenyan wildlife officials said the results of an investigation into the deaths would be made public as soon as it concludes. (Read more rhinoceros stories.)