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Mammalia

Editor-in-Chief: Denys, Christiane


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1864-1547
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Habitat use and spatial organisation of relocated black rhinos in Namibia

Thomas Göttert1, 2 / Joachim Schöne3 / Dietmar Zinner4 / John Keith Hodges5 / Michael Böer6

1Museum für Naturkunde, Leibnitz-Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity at the Humboldt University Berlin, Invalidenstraße 43, D-10115 Berlin, Germany

2Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Leibnitz-Institute for Primate Research, Department of Reproductive Biology, Kellnerweg 4, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

3Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven, H.-H.-Meier-Straße 7, D-27568 Bremerhaven, Germany

4Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Leibnitz-Institute for Primate Research, Department of Cognitive Ethology, Kellnerweg 4, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

5Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Leibnitz-Institute for Primate Research, Department of Reproductive Biology, Kellnerweg 4, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany

6Serengetipark, Am Safaripark 1, D-20693 Hodenhagen, Germany

Corresponding author

Citation Information: mammalia. Volume 74, Issue 1, Pages 35–42, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI:  10.1515/mamm.2010.012,

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Abstract

In this study we systematically examined species-specific exploration behaviour and behavioural acclimatisation of a black rhino Diceros bicornis founder group post-translocation. The study was carried out in a fenced region, approximately 350 km2 in size and directly adjacent to Etosha National Park in Namibia. Rhinos were radio-tracked and movement data were complemented by detailed habitat descriptions at the centres of rhino activity with vegetation plot sampling. Rhinos used both geological formations of the study area: Otavi dolomite and Etosha calcrete substrate. The latter was dominated by Acacia spp. due to former land use for livestock farming. The size of total and seasonal home ranges and core areas, as well as home range establishment patterns and habitat use, are highly variable among individual rhinos. Home ranges of most individuals from our study are among the largest recorded for the species. We found age class specific patterns of home range establishment, typical mating and social behaviour, seasonal changes of home range and core area size, and clear shifts in spatial behaviour over time. The results provide our best estimate to date for the natural exploration behaviour and behavioural acclimatisation of black rhinos in a semi-arid savannah ecosystem.

Keywords: behavioural acclimatisation; black rhinoceros; Diceros bicornis; Etosha National Park; translocation

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