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Rachlow, J.L.; Berger, J., 1998. Reproduction and population density: trade-offs for the conservation of rhinos in situ. Animal Conservation 1 (2): 101-106, figs. 1-3, table 1

Location: Africa - Southern Africa - Zimbabwe
Subject: Management
Species: Black Rhino

Original text on this topic:
Zimbabwe. Body condition was assessed following a method outlined for white rhinos by Keep (1971), which scores condition visually based on reduction of fat deposits and muscle mass around the neck, scapula, spine and sacrum. We photographed each rhino in the late wet season (7 April to 8 May) and again towards the end of the dry season (30 September to 2 November). Multiple photographs were taken of each rhino and scored on a scale from one to four at increments of 0.5. An average score was assigned to each individual in each season.
We contrasted body condition of lactating and nonlactating females. All females with calves <2.5 years of age were observed nursing, and were classified as 'lactating'. Females without young, or accompanied by calves >2.5 years of age whom they were not observed to nurse, were classified as 'non-lactating'.
Body condition and reproductive status
Body condition varied only slightly among individuals during the wet season, but 90% lost condition during the dry season. Loss of body condition by females was related to reproductive status. Although condition of lactating females (n = 9) and non-lactating adult females (n = 7) differed little during the wet season, lactating females were in significantly poorer condition during the late dry season. Differences in body condition also were related to population density. Rhinos >2 years of age in the high-density population (n = 32) were in significantly poorer body condition than those in the low-density population (n = 7) at the end of the dry season. This difference was apparent despite the fact that lactating females, which tend to exhibit the poorest body condition, comprised a greater proportion of the low-density population.

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