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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : September 2001 : US agency funds rhino monitoring in Mkuzi Game Reserve

US agency funds rhino monitoring in Mkuzi Game Reserve

By Andrew Venter
Wildlands Trust
September 20, 2001

The US conservation agency, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has agreed to fund a rhino-monitoring program in the Mkuze Game Reserve, South Africa, for the next year. The funding grant is worth R174 000 (US$ 21 750) and will result in a comprehensive set of ‘identi-kits’ for the reserve’s population of black and white rhino, as well as a ‘conservation awareness and education’ kit to be made available to schools. A similar rhino monitoring program has recently been successfully completed in the Ndumo/Tembe Complex.

The rhino-monitoring project will continue as a result of efforts by the Wildlands Trust, an independent fund- raising and project management organisation concerned with conservation-based community development in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

According to a proposal submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the need has been identified to establish on-going rhino monitoring. Information obtained through this monitoring will assist in formulating management strategies for the rhino populations in the province’s parks.

These include the detection and prevention of poaching, the maintenance of population levels and gender ratios and the identification of individual animals for the purpose of relocation and restocking. The 40 000ha Mkuze Game Reserve currently has a population of 104 white rhino and 83 black rhino. Security in the park is being stepped up after 11 poaching incidents against rhino in the last year, where rhinos sustained death or injury as a result of direct poaching or snares.

Wildlands Trust CEO Dr Andrew Venter said that rhino monitoring is a vital part of rhino conservation. “All we
know is that especially black rhino are still critically endangered. And we have insufficient information about their population structures in our parks in KwaZulu Natal. Better information will lead to better management, and the main objective of rhino management is to increase the numbers of rhino.”

For further information, contact Wildlands CEO Andrew Venter.
Cel: (083) 324-7484.



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