Publications

Density dependence and population dynamics of black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) in Kenya's rhino sanctuaries

Ouma, B.O.; Amin, R.; Langevelde, F. van; Leader-Williams, N.

Summary

Density-dependent feedback mechanisms provide insights into the population dynamics and interactions of large herbivores with their ecosystem. Sex ratio also has particularly important implications for growth rates of many large mammal populations through its influence on reproductive potential. Therefore, the interrelationships between density-dependent factors, comprising density, sex ratio and underlying growth rates (r) were examined for the Eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) living in three rhino sanctuaries in Kenya using four population models. The exponential and logistic models gave similar results and the former were accepted because they better portrayed the actual situation on the ground. Sex ratios in all sanctuary populations were positively correlated with r but interpreted with realization of other factors also affecting r. We caution that the results of population models should be interpreted alongside ground-truthed observations. We recommend that future translocation strategies should take into account sex and age structures of the donor population, while future studies of density dependence should take into account both biotic and abiotic factors.