The behaviour and ecology of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis L.) in Ngorongoro creater

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study on the behaviour and ecology of the black rhinoceros was conducted in Ngorongoro Creator from December 1980 to Hay, 1982, almost twenty years after the studies by Kligel and Klingel (1963-1965) and Goddard (1964-1966) on the same population. One aim of this project was to update their findings after the population went into decline. Objectives of the study were to investigate activity patterns, feeding ecology, present population size and structure, home ranges and finally to reach conclusions on conservation strategies. Diurnal activity patterns showed no difference from previous studies. Rhinos were most active in the early morning and late afternoons resting in the middle of the day. Data on sex/age and seasonal activity differences are given. The rhinos fed on a variety of food plant species, feeding in open grasslands during the west season, in the swamps during the early dry season and in Lerai Porest, where they obtained the bulk of their food, largely at night. Using fecal analysis techniques, adult rhinos were found to browse more than the calves all the year around, while both age classes tended to graze more in the wet season and browse in the dry season, when green grass was no longer available. This study showed grass to be an important constituent of diet, contrary to what Goddard (1968) reported. During the study, a total of 25 rhinos were identified in the creator, but at the termination of the study, 4 rhinos had been killed. This giving a population decline of 80.6% since 1966. Information on the mean group size and sex and age structures is presented and the the results are in accord with black rhino populations elsewhere. Individual associations between rhinoceros have been analysed quantitatively by association indices. Both sexes occupied home ranges, with the female home ranges overlapping extensively (26%-72%) as compared to the male to male home range overlaps of 0%-43%. Territoriality in the text. Using Leuthold’s (1977) terminology, the black rhinoceros could be classified as follows: Adult males were solitary with parts of their home ranges being exclusive while adult females occupied non-exclusive home ranges with social units consisting of mother-calf, solitary or open groups of two animals (larger groups were rare). Black rhinoceros populations have declined by over 70% in most parks and Reserves of East Africa in the past 10 years due to poaching for the horn , whose wholesale price rose by twenty fold between 1975-1979. The conservation of the rhino depends on how fast international trade in rhino products can be arrested. Tanzania has recently become a member of the CITES, a conservation in Tanzania.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr.Wirbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF QL737.U63K5)
Rhinocerous, Legends, stories
Kiwia, H. Y. D (1983) The behaviour and ecology of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis L.) in Ngorongoro creater, Masters dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.