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- BERRY, HU: Flamingo and Pelican Breeding on the Etosha Pan and its Implications for Management of the Etosha National Park, Namibia
- HEARN, M.E., LOUTIT, B.D. and URI-KHOB. S.: The Black Rhinoceros of Northwestern Namibia (Diceros bicornis bicornis): The Role of Density Dependence and its Management Implications
- MAKER, LAURIE: Aspects of the Ecology of the Cheetah (Acinonynx jubatus jubatus) on the North Central Namibian farmlands
- SWART, ROGER: The Search for Hydrocarbons - is there Potential in Namibia?
- SEELY, M., HENSCHEL, J., ZEIDLER, J.,SHANYENGANA, C.: Namib Research: Its Development at Gobabeb and Implications for Namibia
- HENSCHEL, J., SEELY, M., ZEIDLER, J.: Long-Term Ecologocial Research at Gobabe: Gaining and Applying Knowledge about a highly variable Environment
- GRIFFIN, MIKE: The species Diversity, Distribution and Conservation of Namibian Reptiles: A Review
- SCHNEIDER, HERBERT: Diseases of Wildlife affecting Livestock Farming in Namibia
- VON HATTEN, SIGRID: The Role of the Amateur Scientists in South West Africa / Namibia since 1925
ABSTRACT This paper is adapted from a study done on the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in the Republic of Namibia, submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of M.Sc. in Conservation Biology at the University of Kent, Canterbury. The full report is available under the title "Factors Limiting Fecundity and Movement Patterns of The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in Kunene Region, Namibia."
This gives more detail on the background to the study, the particular characteristics of each of the three study sites and greater detail on the methodology and results of the study. These rhino inhabit the arid rangelands of north-western Namibia (mean rainfall < 150mm per year) occurring on communal land boarding the Skeleton Coast Park. The range patterns of females in three sub-populations of the black rhinoceros were studied in Kunene and Erongo Region to determine the factors limiting spatial movement and fecundity.
The population's growth rate across its entire range is estimated at 2% per annum for the last six years, and density is only 0.01 km². Study sites were chosen to reflect the differing and contrasting geology of the range area. The three sites had similar rainfall patterns and variable breeding performance. Using a geographic information system (GIS), seasonal availability of surface water and landform properties were assigned to each study site. Three habitats were determined from the GIS; slopes, plains, and riverine. The abundance, composition and condition of the perennial woody vegetation was measured in the three habitats across all three sites using a plotless sampling strategy, point centre quarter (PCQ). Using sightings data collected over twenty years the range area and individual home ranges of females in the study sites were plotted and size calculated using minimum convex polygon. In all three study sites the densest perennial woody vegetation occurred in the riverine habitat.
The proportion of preferred perennial woody species, making up the bulk of the rhinoceros diet, was highest in the slopes habitat for the study site with the lowest mean distance to perennial and annual surface water (Kruskal Wallis, x2 = 8.708, df = 2, P = 0.013). Individual female home range varied across the two focal study sites (Students t-test, t = 10.346, df= 5, P = 0.000: Central study site range 94.37 km² to 114.52 km² (mean = 104 ± 5.8544 km²; n =- 3), Southern study site range 340.03 km² to 441.20 km² (mean = 385 ± 22.64 km²; n = 4)). The smallest home range was recorded for the site with the highest density of female rhinos, best breeding performance and highest proportion of preferred perennial woody species occurring in the slopes habitat. Home range size was found to be positively related to the proportion of slopes habitat occurring in the individual home ranges of females.
This suggested that fecundity is limited by the availability of surface water and food resources, which in turn is limited by the variable geology occurring across the three study sites. This report discusses the findings of the study in the context of the development of conservancies in the communal areas of Kunene and Erongo Region, as part of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism's implementation of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). Through this process appropriate management options, that are explored both socially and environmentally, can secure the aims of black rhino conservation, alongside the desires for economic development and self-empowerment of farmers in western Kunene and Erongo Region.
Long gestation periods for the black rhino stretch the critical periods influencing offspring rarvival across different periods of the year, so no strong selective pressures favour any particular time for reproduction (Hitchins and Anderson, 1983). Although this makes the species extremely susceptible to over-hunting, characteristics such as late age of first breeding and age-dependent fecundity have also allowed populations of the black rhinoceros to recover from near extinction when successful conservation measures have been implemented.
The desert-dwelling black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) of north-western Namibia is one such population. Land tenure is communal and the development of a community-based conservation approach in the early 1980's (Loutit and Owen-Smith, 1989; Owen-Smith, 1996) was balanced by intensive field operations and strong law enforcement carried out by both Ministry and non-govern-mental organisations (MET, 1997). Intensive monitoring of the population is now co-ordinated by the NGO Save the Rhino Trust (SRT). As the most accurate method of counting rhinos is by individual recognition (Leader-Williams, 1988), SRT operates five teams using vehicles, and in the more mountainous areas camels, to carry out daily monitoring patrols across the range area.
These are supplemented by game guard patrols in two of the eight management zones in the newly registered Torra Conservancy, and in the other areas, by patrols from game guards operating through Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) and rangers from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. A complete census is carried out every five years. This has enabled the collection of valuable data on numbers, movement patterns and breeding performance for more than twenty years.