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SUMMARY

During 1967–1968 a census was conducted of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis L.) population in part of the Tsavo ecological unit. The region concerned covers an area of approximately 23,300 km2 (9,000 square miles). Large parts of the region were systematically covered in a light aircraft and all rhinoceros observed were recorded on a 1:250,000 map. Because of the visibility bias inherent in such censuses correction factors were placed on the raw aerial data and crude estimates obtained. These crude estimates were then checked by intensive work on the ground in several sectors, and adjustments made where necessary.

Using these crude estimates approximately two-thirds of the area under consideration were stratified into five density strata: very high, high, medium, low, and very low. Within this area 250 randomly located 2.59 km2 (1 square mile) plots were intensively searched from the aircraft and all rhinoceros observed on these plots recorded. In the very high, high, and medium density strata these intensive searches resulted, at the 95% level of significance, in a population estimate of 4,200±25% of the mean or an estimate of between 3,150 and 5,255 rhinoceros within these strata. In the low stratum the statistical analysis resulted in a population estimate of 306±83% of the mean or an estimate of between 47 and 565 rhinoceros at the 90% level of significance. In the very low stratum the population estimate, at the 50% level of significance, was 266 ± 50% of the mean or an estimate of between 133 and 400 rhinoceros. A comparison of the crude estimates and the refined statistical estimates illustrates close agreement.

The remaining third of the area was covered systematically and correction factors were placed on the raw aerial data. Crude estimates suggest a population of 2,800–3,000 occupying this part of the area. Assuming that this crude estimate, together with the statistical estimates for the low and very low strata, are rough approximations of the actual populations, it is statistically probable that the true population of black rhinoceros in this region lies between 6,130 and 9,220.