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Brooks, M., 1999. African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG). Pachyderm 27: 9-15

Location: Africa - Southern Africa - South Africa
Subject: Distribution - Records
Species: White Rhino

Original text on this topic:
AROA private sector white rhino conservation workshop. In the last Pachyderm I mentioned that a draft South African white rhino conservation and sustainable use strategy had been produced. In 1997, the private sector in South Africa owned and conserved just over 20% of the continent's southern white rhino. From 1987-97 South African white rhino (in all populations) increased by an average of 6.7% per year, and if this metapopulation growth rate can be maintained, then the country could have over 15,000 white rhino by 2007. However, for this to be achieved, it is likely that the private sector and communities will need to conserve an increasing proportion of these rhinos. For this to occur, it is clear that incentives to con- serve white rhinos will need to be maintained.
Despite the success of private sector white rhino conservation, a number of concerns have been expressed internationally. Monitoring of rhino movements between private properties and the registration and control of private sector horn stocks are two areas with room for significant improvement. Given these concerns, and the realisation that the private sector is likely to play an increasingly important role in conserving southern white rhino, a WWF supported African Rhino Owners Association (AROA) workshop was held at Onderstepoort in early October 1999. Provisional results of the latest WWF-funded Survey of the status of white rhino on private land were released at the workshop by Daan Buijs. He showed that numbers of privately owned southern white rhino in South Africa had continued to increase up to an estimated 1,922 (up from 1,742 in 1997). This figure is likely to be conservative, as uncorrected minimum aerial counts were used for some of the larger populations. After excluding the additional animals bought from the private sector, the survey showed numbers on private land increased by 7% per annum over the last two years.
Three AfRSG members and a member of the Endangered Species Protection Unit of the South African Police Service also gave background presentations. Speakers emphasised the importance of putting conservation first and the need for the highest ethical standards to be adopted by the private sector. The draft conservation plan. its vision, key components and objectives were outlined. A number of strategic issues relevant to private sector white rhino conservation and to meeting the goals of the plan were then discussed. Some inadequacies were highlighted by the speakers and in particular the urgent need for improved registering of private horn stockpiles was emphasized.
At the workshop, issues discussed included legislation and policy (including registration and `identichipping' of horn stocks), the future structure of AROA (including the need for greater representation of owners and the employment of a full time coordinator), and inititatives to boost security (development of reaction plans and setting up of an emergency fund) and improved monitoring (desirability of ID-based monitoring methods, and the introduction of a standardised status reporting system at least for the bigger populations)

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