SADC Regional Programme for Rhino Conservation
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Glossary
 
 
Glossary
This glossary includes the definition of selected technical terms used in our web sites and commonly encountered in literature about the African rhino. The definitions and examples included in our glossary often refer to rhinoceros, however many of the terms covered are common in the ecological literature and may apply to other species as well.

Biodiversity

Or Biological Diversity. The variability among organisms (within species and between species) and ecosystems.

 

Biological management

Rhino populations in the wild are generally not only protected, but also actively managed. Biological management refers to adjusting stocking densities or composition of a population of rhinos and/or other competing species, or managing their habitat.

In general terms, the goals of rhino biological management are to maximise the population growth rate and to maintain high levels of genetic diversity within the population.

 

Communal land

In southern Africa this terms generally refers to an area of land owned by the State, which confers certain use rights (for cultivation, livestock grazing, timber harvesting, settlement, etc.) to rural populations which do not hold individual proprietary deeds. Many such areas in Zimbabwe and Namibia are used for traditional agro-pastoral farming activities.

 

Ecological carrying capacity

The ecological carrying capacity (ECC) of a specific area is the maximum number of rhino that can be supported in the same area by its natural resources in the long term. It is usually expressed as number of rhino per km2.

Factors affecting rhino ECC include the type of ecosystem, climatic factors, vegetation, fire, competition with other herbivorous species, etc. The ECC of an area is not fixed, but varies in response to habitat changes, rainfall, etc.

Exceeding the ECC of an area might cause degradation of its natural resources and might negatively affect the growth rate of the rhino population.

It is important to estimate the ECC of a given area to plan reintroduction of rhinoceros or to manage an existing rhino population in order to maintain it at or close to its maximum productive carrying capacity.

 

Ex situ

In captivity and/or out of the historical range of the species.

 

Genetic diversity

It refers to the genetic heterogeneity of a population. It is essential to maintain high levels of genetic diversity in a population in order to ensure its long term  health and survival and its capacity to adapt to environmental changes.

Genetic diversity can be lost as a consequence of inbreeding and can be increased though active metapopulation management.

In the case of establishing a new rhino population, it is generally accepted that a minimum of 20 animals should be reintroduced as minimum viable number for the founder population.

 

Geo-reference information

Information provided to register a geographical location (e.g., ground points, maps, etc.) on the Earthĺs surface.

 

GIS (geographical information system)

A computer based information system which stores, analyses and presents geographic information, i.e. geographical features and elements supported by georeference information.

 

GPS (global positioning system)

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a world-wide radio-navigation system

formed by a constellation of 24 satellites and their ground stations. GPS uses these "man-made stars" as reference points to calculate positions on earth: data indicating the accurate position can be received through GPS receivers.

 

Growth rate

The relative rate at which population size changes over a period of time. Population growth implies a positive growth rate. Population decrease implies a negative growth rate.

Rhino conservation efforts aim at increasing the size of  populations as quickly as possible. It should be noted that, for example, a population which grows at  5% per year (considered the minimum acceptable for back rhino) will double its size in 15 years; a population which grows at 9% per year (considered often the maximum growth rate for black rhino) will double its size in 9 years. Therefore the rate of growth of the rhino population is the basic indicator for the effectiveness of rhino conservation.

To achieve a rapid growth of the rhino population, overstocking of rhino in a specific area should be avoided. Therefore, it is necessary to estimate the ecological carrying capacity of  the area and hence the maximum productivity carrying capacity for rhino.

The optimal stocking rate can be maintained by removing excess rhinos, which can be translocated to other sites to reinforce other populations or to establish new ones (metapopulation management). Rhinos to be removed are selected taking into account the genetic, age and sex structure of the population.

 

Habitat

The place where an animal or a plant chooses to live and where all its requirements are met.

 

Historical range

The area in which a species was distributed within recorded history.

 

In situ

Refers to wild rhino conserved in their natural habitat and within historical range of the species, as opposed to ex situ.

 

Inbreeding

The reproduction of related organisms, which usually decreases the variety of combinations of genes found in future generations the population.

 

Intensive protection zone (IPZ)

This is one type of rhino protection area in the wild.

An IPZ is defined as unfenced area on private or communal land, or within a larger State-run protected area, where law enforcement staff are deployed at a moderate to high density (ideally one field ranger between 10 and 30 km2) specifically to protect rhino. The concentration of rhinos within an IPZ reflects natural patterns of distribution and movement and is not the deliberate result of fencing or other methods of confinement.

The key principle behind the IPZ is the concentration of anti-poaching effort in specific areas rather than spreading available resources inadequately over huge areas. Zimbabwe has set up IPZs at Sinamatella ( Hwange National Park ), Matobo N.P, Matusadona N, P and Chipinge.

(quoted from Emslie, R and Brooks, M. (1999). African Rhino. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN.)

 

Maximum productivity carrying capacity

The maximum productivity carrying capacity (MPCC) of an area is the stocking rate (number of rhino per km2) at which the growth rate of the rhino population is maximised.

As a general guidance, it is estimated that MPCC is about 75 % of the ecological carrying capacity.

 

Metapopulation

A number of distinct rhino populations which are managed collectively as part of one large ôherdöö. This management can be achieved by moving animals from one population to another (see also translocation).

 

Private custodianship

In certain cases rhinos originally found in State land have been moved to privately owned areas where a higher level of protection can be provided by the landowner on behalf of the State. In these cases rhinos are conferred to the land owners within a custodianship scheme, whereby the animals remain State-owned. This type or arrangement occurs in Zimbabwe and Namibia .

 

Rhino Conservancy

This is one type of rhino protection area in the wild.

A conservancy is a medium to large fenced area of private land, though possibly with some State-run protected land in which rhino live on land units that are under the control of two or more landowners. Staff are deployed at a moderate to high density to protect and monitor the rhino population. Conservancies are ring fenced and all internal fences have been removed to allow free movement of game within the conservancy. In very large conservancies (e.g., Save Valley, in Zimbabwe ), the need for biological management is reduced.

(quoted from Emslie, R and Brooks, M. (1999). African Rhino. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN.)

 

Rhino conservation area

This is one type of rhino protection area in the wild.

The term refers to medium to large areas of natural habitat in which the natural patterns of rhino distribution cover the entire area. This area may be fenced or unfenced, and staff are deployed at a moderate to high density specifically to protect the animals. Rhinos remain relatively unmanaged, except for ensuring adequate protection and translocating animals out of fenced areas once densities reach estimated maximum productive carrying capacity.

This approach is adopted for the largest natural populations of black and white rhino. Examples include Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park and Kruger National Park in South Africa , which are both fenced RCAs, Ithala Game Reserve in South Africa , a partially fenced RCA; and Masai Mara in Kenya , an unfenced RCA.

(quoted from Emslie, R and Brooks, M. (1999). African Rhino. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN.)

 

Rhino protection area

Rhinoceros living in the wild are usually actively protected. However, the level of protection and the management system vary according to the type of protection area. The following types of rhino protection areas are recognised:

Ě         Rhino conservation area  (RCA)

Ě         Intensive rhino protection zone (IPZ)

Ě         Rhino sanctuary

Ě         Rhino conservancy

Ě         Rhino ranch

(after Emslie, R and Brooks, M. (1999). African Rhino. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN.)

 

Rhino ranch

This is one type of rhino protection area in the wild.

A rhino ranch is a small to medium area of private land in which rhino are deliberately confined, through perimeter fencing or other methods, but where law enforcement effort or other human presence in not oriented specifically towards rhino protection. This human presence might include labourers who daily check the fence-line, rhino monitors, ecotourism staff, or wilderness trail operators. Because rhino-specific law enforcement effort is limited in these areas, these reserves do not qualify as rhino sanctuaries. However the fence-lines of rhino ranches are usually regularly patrolled, and there may be sufficient human activity (associated with ecotourism of legal hunting) to act as deterrent to poachers. A number of rhino ranches have implemented increased security measures and have been upgraded to rhino sanctuaries.

(quoted from Emslie, R and Brooks, M. (1999). African Rhino. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN).

 

Rhino sanctuary

This is one type of rhino protection area in the wild.

A sanctuary is a small area of State-protected, private or communal land in which rhino are deliberately confined through perimeter fencing or other methods, and where law enforcement staff are deployed at a high density (one field ranger per 10-30km2) to protect the rhino population. The confinement of rhino within a sanctuary allows close observation and relative intensive management of the population. As with the Intensive Protection Zone model, the sanctuary approach is based on the principle of concentrating law enforcement activity.

Sanctuaries may be in range (as at Nagulia , Kenya ) or out of range (as at Addo Elephant Park , South Africa ), or, occasionally, a mix (as at Solio Ranch , Kenya , which has an in-range black rhino population and an out of-range southern white rhino population.

(quoted from Emslie, R and Brooks, M. (1999). African Rhino. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, IUCN.)

 

Taxon (plural taxa)

Pertaining to the groupings used in the classification of organisms. Taxonomy is the science devoted to the categorisation of organisms, based on groups (taxa) where similar organisms are classified together in relation to their common characteristics.

 

Translocation

The deliberate and mediated movement of wild individuals or populations from one part of their range to another.

Translocations may be undertaken to establish new populations, to achieve high population growth rates, and/or  to maintain genetic diversity.