The Union of Veterinary Practitioners has criticised Tourism CS Najib Balala for "unfairly blaming doctors" for the deaths of 10 rhinos owing to salty water.
Chairman Benson Kibore on Wednesday told the CS to stop using veterinary doctors as scapegoats. He alleged foul play and said they are being sacrificed to appease the public.
Kibore wondered why an officer, who had been transferred from the Kenya Wildlife Service, was part of the investigating team. He claimed the officer had carried out the Environmental Impact Assessment.
“Why should a suspect be part of the investigating team?” he asked.
On Tuesday the CS apologised for telling critics who asked him to resign over the deaths of endangered rhinos to ‘go to hell’.
He faulted the system, saying it did not act quickly to stop the deaths. The former Mvita MP said the KWS had done its best but said negligence caused the deaths.
“It is clear there was some negligence during the translocation of the animals,” Balala said.Kibore said veterinary doctors at KWS do not have the power to authorise big and sensitive projects, which is done by the head of species and ecology.
He said it is wrong to blame them, yet the translocation project began in 2011 after an environmental assessment was done.
“By 2015, the saline borehole already existed while rhinos were being moved,” Kibore said.
The official said the ecological and water salinity report was not produced as requested by the conservation committee. He said it was only released after the rhinos' death.
He said the report tabled by a veterinary doctor from South Africa is illegal since he is not licensed to practice in Kenya.
“The Veterinary Board is the only government agency that licenses expatriates,” he said.
“Who certified that the environment at Tsavo East had improved and was not a threat to the animals? Who gave the final order for the animals to be moved? Kibore asked.
Kibore said the World Wide Fund for Nature, which partnered with the KWS, should explain why they halted the project, changed sites and looked for alternative parks for the rhinos.
He said the conservationists should tell Kenyans why they insisted on moving the animals to Tsavo, and why they went through the ministry and not the board.
Kibore also questioned why after three assessments reports on the harsh environment at Tsavo, the rhinos were still transferred.