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Child, G., 1968. Behaviour of large mammals during the formation of Lake Kariba. Salisbury and Bulawayo, Trustees of the National Museums of Rhodesia, pp. i-vi, 1-123

Location: Africa - Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
Subject: Ecology - Habitat
Species: Black Rhino

Original text on this topic:
Kariba, Zimbabwe. Rhino populations withstood considerable compression into the small areas on islands, without the various smaller groups losing their identity (Roth and Child, op. cit.) and without inter-specific competition for food resulting in a heavy mortality. Obviously there is a level at which food supplies will limit further growth of a rhino population, but as a limiting factor it may be less significant than hunting, or the availability of water to this localised species, in extensive areas of otherwise suitable habitat. With the possible exception of the Somaliland race, D. bicornis somaliensis (Stockley, op. cit.), black rhino are generally agrecd to be dependent on regular access to open water.
Roth and Child have explained the ease with which the species can be eliminated by hunting, as the replacement rate to the breeding herd is slow (7 % -9 & per annum) and the maintenance of the population relies largely on the survival and longevity of sexually active adults. This means that a population could only fluctuate slowly and sporadic food shortages would not affect numbers to the same extent as they may in rapidly breeding species, which can become numerous between successive periods of food scarcity, even if the intervals are fairly short. Further, on Island 17, rhino the critical lack of food by obtaining food from a higher level than any other browsers, and the ability to eat twigs meant that they used food unsuited to most species except elephant. This, and the fact that rhino density is usualy low in poorly watered areas, suggests that open water is the main limiting factor to this species, which lives in small groups in restricted home ranges.

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