Sir Peter Scott Fund project: White Rhino, South Africa

'Ear-notching and micro-chipping of White Rhino, South Africa'

Objective

To improve the field monitoring and management of the White Rhino population at Weenen Game Reserve, South Africa.
 

Background

More than 50% of the population of 60 White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simumat Weenen Game Reserve were not individually identifiable as a result of not being ear-notched. This hampered day-to-day field monitoring of this population by field rangers, as they were unable to distinguish between individuals or groups of individuals, nor could they link births to specific females within the population. The inability to link calves to their parents also affected the management of genetic diversity of the population as well as the accurate tracking of the population lineage.

This project was set up with a view to ear-notching and micro-chipping 10 rhinos, as well as to conduct aerial counts of rhinos in order to establish the actual number of rhinos which need to be notched and micro-chipped in the future.

Project updates

(September 2009) The first part of the project has been completed. Ten rhinos were ear-notched, which involved cutting off small pieces of tissue, creating a v-shaped notch at specific positions on the ear of each rhino which are uniquely identifiable. Each rhino was micro-chipped in both horns, as well as in the neck region. A Trovan Transponder Reader was purchased for reading or scanning transponders within the microchips once inserted.
Aerial counts of rhinos were conducted to determine the number of rhinos which need to be notched and micro-chipped.

Plans are now afoot to ear-notch and microchip a further 10 rhinos around October 2009. These will be individuals that could not be approached during the first part of the project as they were females with young calves, and the risk of separation and mortality was, at that time, high.
 

(December 2009) The project has now been successfully completed, following the ear-notching and micro-chipping of 10 additional rhinos.

Duration: June-August 2009

Project leader: Petros Ngwenya

IUCN SSC Specialist Group: African Rhinos

Project donors: IUCN, Fondation Ensemble & Kate Sanderson Bequest Fund