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.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York