Conserving Endangered Rhinos in South Africa
Rhinos are believed to play an important role as “ecosystem engineers.” Help scientists to understand their impact on the environment to help conserve and manage rhinos in South Africa.
On the black markets in Southeast Asia, rhino horn is reported to be worth more than gold. As a result, widespread poaching has decimated rhino populations around the world, including in South Africa – home to three-quarters of the world’s rhino population. The situation is urgent: if poaching continues at its current rate, it is estimated that rhinos may become extinct within the next 20 years. But what would this mean for the ecosystems they support?
Help researchers to study the impact of rhinos on their environment and how it could be affected by their disappearance. This work will help researchers and policy makers to understand their functional role as an ecosystem service engineer, which may help to better protect these animals. You will also assess the impact of current management approaches to conserve rhinos and reduce risks to their populations. For example, how does de-horning impact rhinos’ behavior and their relationship to other animals?
Observe rhino daily either from a game viewer or on foot while observing many other species of South African wildlife – study rhino behavior, record their positions, monitor their feeding habits, and assess their relationship to their environment. Through these activities, you will inform efforts to conserve and manage rhino populations in South Africa.
A Typical Itinerary
- Day 1: Meet, travel to field site
- Day 2: Orientation, training
- Days 3-7: Vegetation surveys, rhino monitoring , bird and mammal surveys
- Day 8: Recreational day excursion to a nearby National Park
- Days 9-10: Vegetation surveys, rhino monitoring, bird and mammal surveys
- Day 11: Research wrap-up, farewell gathering
- Day 12: Departure
HOW YOU WILL HELP
Rhino monitoring and behavior
Find and record locations of individual rhinos to assess their geographic distribution; observe and record their behavior.
Rhino species associations
Survey birds and mammals to assess their species richness and populations in areas where rhinos are and are not present.
When the animals move off of foraging sites, record the vegetation in the area to assess habitat use.
In the evenings, you’ll head back to the field station for dinner, an informal talk by the researchers, and time to relax.
Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
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