Lessons from the introduces Black rhino population in Pilanesberg National Park.

Pachyderm 26: 40-51

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Due to the drastic decline in black rhino numbers, several rhino range states took steps to translocate rhino to secure areas with suitable habitat within their former range. The aim was to build-up remaining black rhino numbers as rapidly as possible, to preserve their genetic diversity in the long tern, and to provide the biggest possible buffer against future potential poaching losses.

However the re-introductions and management of these new populations has not been entirely straightforward. The translocation process needed to be perfected and new problems arose in the introduced populations which required careful consideration.

The black rhino in Pilanesberg National Park South Africa is an introduced population which, through intensive and ongoing monitoring, has improved our understanding of rhino population characteristics currently influencing the conservation goals for black rhino.

Pilanesberg National Park was proclaimed in 1979. It covers 550km2  of rocky hills and broad alluvial valleys in a weathered alkaline volcano. The summer rainfall averages 637mm annually. Black rhino introductions occurred in several stages, beginning in 1981, and involved 24 animals in total. By the start of 1996, the population had grown to 42 animals, and in June that year Pilanesberg became a donor reserve when nine black rhino were translocated to Madikwe Game Reserve. This paper summarises the history and characteristics of the Pilanesberg population up to this stage.


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