We are currently awaiting final approval for a leading edge research initiative on the Black Rhino within the Kruger National Park and have a number of scientists wanting to participate in the project. The dilemma over rhino preservation is critical given the massive increase in poaching of this species however as a Foundation, we are hesitant to simply “jump in” to research that will not provide better management decisions on population dynamics etc. To date we have been involved in a number of peripheral projects including:-
- Key research into GPS telemetry application in the field
- Impact of telemetry application on species – ie. Is there the potential to compromise the animal through the application of radio collars.
- DNA sampling
- De-Horning (we are firmly of the view this is not a good concept in the least as it not only immasculates Male Rhino, but also affects their ability to hold and defend territory.
- Research into the history of animal translocation – again there are quite fascinating aspects to this research including high levels of stress in both translocated animals and those resident within a translocation zone.
- The use of Drone Technology in restricting Poaching activities. Whilst we have been inundated with offers of funding, we are of the view that the Foundation represents all that is good in scientific research and that we are not experts in the fields of anti poaching activities. The potential threat to human life is not something we feel we can appropriately endorse within the Foundation though we have worked directly with the HAWKS on a number of “Sting” operations with a very high degree of success.
The key to the survival of Rhino is extremely complex – our view is that it is only through leading edge research that we will better understand the demographics and inter territorial aspects that drive Rhino populations and prevent them from becoming extinct.