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University of Namibia (2008)

Multi-scale assessment of habitat use by Black Rhinos(Diceros bicornis Linnaeus 1758) in North West Namibia

Shivute Basilia Andoroone

Titre : Multi-scale assessment of habitat use by Black Rhinos(Diceros bicornis Linnaeus 1758) in North West Namibia

Auteur : Shivute Basilia Andoroone

Université de soutenance : University of Namibia

Grade : Master of Science in Biodiversity Management and Research 2008

The black rhino of northwestern Namibia is a desert-adapted sub-species Dicerosbicornis bicornis. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia has initiated an ambitious program to re-introduce black rhino into areas within their historic range. As an aid to this program, a multi-scale habitat assessment for black rhinos based on vegetation and environmental relationship analyses was carried from April to June 2006 in the Kunene Region, northwestern Namibia. Three study sites were selected : Palmwag concession, Torra conservancy and ,#Khoadi //Hoas conservancy. In all three study sites, three general habitat types were selected ; major river, secondary river and non-river habitats. At a local scale, data on plant species name, richness and browse availability were collected and analyzed. At a landscape level, the significance of environmental variables in the low and high probability of habitats used by black rhino in the Palmwag concession was also investigated. Analyses on species diversity, richness and composition and browse availability illustrated a significant difference among the sampled sites as well as the different habitats. Torra conservancy exhibited significantly higher species diversity and richness than #Khoadi //Hoas conservancy. Furthermore, #Khoadi //Hoas conservancy exhibited higher browse availability than Torra and Palmwag concessions. The significant differences could be due to factors such as elevation and rainfall. Canonical Correspondence Analysis showed that elevation and rainfall significantly influenced browse availability of selected plant species. The direction and influence of elevation was more important in plots from #Khoadi //Hoas and the influence of rainfall was more important in Torra concervancy, and Palmwag concession. At a landscape level, this study found significant differences between the probability of rhino habitat use and the following habitat characteristics : distance to major rivers, distance to perennial springs, rainfall, elevation and slope. However the probability of a habitat being used by black rhinos could also be attributed to other underlying factors such as slope, soil properties and land use patterns and these warrant further investigation. Investigation into slope steepness for example, may reveal links to hydrology and therefore the occurrence of certain plant species. Based on higher browse availability in #Khoadi //Hoas conservancy, this study demonstrated that re-introduction of black rhinos is possible. However this study recommends further research into browse availability in other communal conservancies that are possible rhino re-introduction sites. This study also recommends research into factors which influence the browse availability and therefore habitat use by black rhinos in northwestern Namibia.


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