Original Research

The status of rhinoceroses in South African National Parks

Sam M. Ferreira, Charlene Bissett, Carly R. Cowell, Angela Gaylard, Cathy Greaver, Jessica Hayes, Markus Hofmeyr, Lizette Moolman-van der Vyver, David Zimmermann
Koedoe | Vol 59, No 1 | a1392 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v59i1.1392 | © 2017 Sam M. Ferreira, Charlene Bissett, Carly R. Cowell, Angela Gaylard, Cathy Greaver, Jessica Hayes, Markus Hofmeyr, Lizette Moolman-van der Vyver, David Zimmermann | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 March 2016 | Published: 31 October 2017

About the author(s)

Sam M. Ferreira, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Skukuza, South Africa
Charlene Bissett, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Kimberley, South Africa
Carly R. Cowell, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Cape Town, South Africa
Angela Gaylard, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Knysna, South Africa
Cathy Greaver, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Skukuza, South Africa
Jessica Hayes, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Knysna, South Africa
Markus Hofmeyr, Veterinary Wildlife Services, South African National Parks, Skukuza, South Africa
Lizette Moolman-van der Vyver, Scientific Services, South African National Parks, Knysna, South Africa
David Zimmermann, Veterinary Wildlife Services, South African National Parks, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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Abstract

African rhinoceroses (rhinos) experienced a poaching onslaught since 2008 with the epicentre in South Africa where most of the world’s rhinos occur. South African national parks, under the management of South African National Parks (SANParks), are custodian to 49% of South Africa’s white and 31% of the country’s black rhinos. We collated information on rhino population sizes in seven national parks from 2011 to 2015. We include and report on rhino surveys in Kruger National Park during 2014 and 2015. Southwestern black rhinos increased over the study period, which allows SANParks to achieve its contribution to South Africa’s 2020 target of 260 individuals. South-central black rhinos declined over the study period because of poaching in the Kruger National Park, making it difficult for SANParks to realise a 9% increase per annum for its expected contribution to the South African target of 2800 individuals. For southern white rhinos, SANParks requires 5% annual growth for its contribution to the South African target of 20 400 individuals. To continue to evaluate the achievement of these targets, SANParks needs annual population estimates relying on total counts, mark-recapture techniques and block-based sample counts to track trends in rhino populations. SANParks’ primary challenge in achieving its contribution to South Africa’s rhino conservation targets is associated with curbing poaching in Kruger National Park.

Conservation implications: The status and trends of rhino species in SANParks highlight key challenges associated with achieving the national targets of South Africa. Conservation managers will need to improve the protection of southern white rhino, while the Department of Environmental Affairs need to be made aware of the challenges specifically associated with not achieving targets for south-central black rhino. Outcomes for south-western black rhino have already realised and the good conservation efforts should continue.


Keywords

population size; population trend; survey techniques; optimal sampling

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Crossref Citations

1. Realization of poaching effects on rhinoceroses in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Sam M. Ferreira, Cathy Greaver, Zoliswa Nhleko, Chenay Simms
African Journal of Wildlife Research  vol: 48  issue: 1  first page: 013001  year: 2018  
doi: 10.3957/056.048.013001