By Lisa Ntungicimpaye
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The Kenya Wildlife Service has started moving 14 black rhinos to a sanctuary in the south east of the country to offer a more secure location for the endangered species.
Eight rhinos from a national park in the capital Nairobi and six from a wildlife reserve in the Rift Valley will be moved to Tsavo East National Park rhino sanctuary in the southeast near the coast, Tourism Minister Najib Balala said on Tuesday as the move started.
Poaching has risen in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa where well-armed criminal gangs have killed elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns. Often the animal parts are shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines.
"We are working on improving our surveillance using technology because also humans can be a factor in poaching and also in negligence," Balala said.
"So we are not concentrating on increasing the numbers, we are concentrating on using technology to manage wildlife, both inside and outside the national parks."
Kenya had a rhino population of 1,258 in 2017 of which 745 are black rhinos, 510 southern white rhinos and three were northern white rhinos, according to KWS, having grown from less than 400 rhinos in the 1980s.
The black rhino is a critically endangered species while the white rhino is near threatened. Last month, three black rhinos were killed in Kenya's Meru National Park.
Balala said authorities have reduced the number of black rhinos at Nairobi National Park from the current 101 as its capacity cannot hold many rhinos. The government will maintain 70 at Nakuru national park in the Rift Valley.
"That's why we have created a new sanctuary in Tsavo," he said. "Tsavo national park is huge. It's almost 19,000 square kilometres. That sanctuary is big so we will slowly be relocating more rhinos in that area," he said.
(Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)