Genetic and Demographic Threats to the Black Rhinoceros Population in the Ngorongoro Crater

  • Moehlman P
  • Amato G
  • Runyoro V
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: A resident population of 13 black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) persist in Ngorongoro Crater, Tan- zania. The effective population size (Ne) may be as few as 5 animals. Projected growth for this population suggests that the effective population size will remain smallfor the nearfuture, threatening this local popula- tion with extinction due to the stochasticfactors associated with smallpopulation size. A summary of historic and recent demographic data for this population reveals a population crash during the period of heavy poaching that affected this species throughout its range. Although poaching of this species has been brought under control, the population remains small. These data and models of projected population growth argue for consideration of more-intensive management within the framework of the small population paradigm. This case is an example of applied conservation resulting from this paradigm used in conjunction with rather than competing with the declining population paradigm. We identifj additional monitoring, particularly of density-dependent behaviors, that will be necessary for designing a successful management program. Finally, the use of molecular markers for developing an accurate pedigree for this population is suggested in order to maintain a genetically healthy population. These strategies have broad applicability to black rhin.oceros con- servation throughout Africa.

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  • Patricia D. Moehlman

  • George Amato

  • Victor Runyoro

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