Maremani Nature Reserve

Investigating the parasites of black rhinoceros

By Andrew Stringer, Victoria University og Wellington NZ, & ACE – NMMU Port Elizabeth.

Unfortunately, due to poaching, there are no longer rhinos in Maremani Nature Reserve.

Parasites impact wildlife survival and fecundity, and tolerance of management-induced stressors (e.g., translocation). They are, therefore, a concern in the management of endangered species, like rhinoceros, especially where species recovery depends on cross-continental translocation (i.e., reintroduction and restocking, IUCN 1987) and maximizing population vital rates. The intestinal and filarial nematode parasites of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) are numerous, however their bio-geographic ranges, host-specificity and ecology, and longer-term impact on rhinoceros population vital rates are poorly understood. This study will investigate the differences in parasite abundance between populations of black rhino, and examine how parasites modify animal fitness on a population and individual scale. This will include investigating how parasites may affect the ecological carrying capacity of a reserve. The project will test fundamental ecological theories concerning what factors, such as host density, may affect parasite species abundance in these populations. Finally, historical translocations of wildlife provide a remarkable, albeit fortuitous experiment, to understand how parasites spread through a meta-population and affect post-release success.


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