An integrated management strategy for the conservation of Eastern black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis michaeli in Kenya

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Abstract

At time of writing Kenya holds c. 84% of the remaining in situ population of Critically Endangered Eastern black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis michaeli. The Kenyan 5 year Black Rhino Conservation and Management Strategy has given highest priority to the biological management of the subspecies in order to help achieve and maintain rapid metapopulation growth to increase rhinoceros numbers. Specific training and capacity building in monitoring of rhinoceros, from collection of field data to status reporting, have been implemented. Procedures to assess ecological carrying capacity for Eastern black rhinoceros habitat have been developed to help establish new viable populations and to optimize the management of existing sanctuaries, some of which face loss of suitable habitat owing to competition for resources between rhinoceros and other browsers. The management objective is to maintain rhinoceros populations below the ecological carrying capacity of a reserve in order to increase reproduction in‘donor'populations as well as the trans-location of animals to create new populations with the potential for rapid growth. The conservation value of establishing site-level support relationships is also discussed. Kenya, for the first time since the 1970s, achieved a growth rate of >5% over the period 2004 and 2005 (the national goal is to increase numbers by at least 5%).

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