|SA must make rhino's 'bonk' more|
South Africa’s rhino populations must be managed so that the animals can “bonk at the maximum rate” and churn out calves to serve as a buffer against the poaching onslaught.
Biological management of rhino was about ensuring “you keep taking animals out of the populations who are well-established… to make sure we keep them productive. Then we invest them in new areas where there’s potential for growth,” said Dr Richard Emslie, of the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group, yesterday.
He was speaking at a national rhino conservation workshop, convened by the Department of Environmental Affairs.
“Effectively, we’re rhino investment-banking. We’re trying to get the highest overall metapopulation growth rate we can, because rhinos are just the same as managing your investment. The greater the return you can get, you can compound that return. Just these small differences in growth can translate to hundreds more rhinos in a short time.
“And if we’re facing a security threat, one of the best things we can do is grow rhinos as fast as we can, because that gives us just that little bit more buffer.”
Emslie said poor biological management could “end up losing you more rhino than we are losing now through poaching”. But investing in new populations, through translocation, for example, freed up food supplies for the populations that remained.
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