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Edroma, E.L., 1982. White rhino extinct in Uganda. Oryx 16 (4): 352-355, map 1, table 1

Location: Africa - Eastern Africa - Uganda
Subject: Distribution - Records
Species: White Rhino

Original text on this topic:
Ceratotherium simum - historical survey. Attempts were made in 1925 and 1926 to census Uganda's white rhinos; before 1928 Pitman gave an average of 150 individuals in the West Nile Province. The 1928 census was the first reasonably accurate one in Uganda when at least 130 individuals were estimated. By 1939 Salmon estimated 220. After that, increased poaching and hunting, coupled with settlement and cultivation in supposed rhino range, caused a steady decline in the rhino numbers, and in 1948 only 190 animals were recorded. Around that time the animals left Rhino Camp and moved south into Ajai-Inde Swamps and north into Obongi. That year too the Game Department improved anti-poaching operations and there was optimistic talk of increased numbers. Pitman suggested that there were more rhinos in the Era Forest Reserve than in both the Mountain Kei and Otze Forest Sanctuaries combined. In 1949 he estimated 24 animals in the Mount Kei Reserve and 50 in the 60-square-mile strip between the Uganda border and the Nile in Sudan. In 1951, Sidney estimated over 300 animals, although others estimated 500. In the first half of the 1950s the Government reported the white rhino to be flourishing, especially in the Ajai-Inde Swamps, the Mount Kei and Otze Forest Sanctuaries. Animals in the Otze Sanctuary roamed at ease between Madi and Nimule Game Reserves in Sudan, and by 1955 the white rhino population was 350.
The tragedy for the Uganda white rhinos started in 1956 when heavy poaching from Southern Sudan was widespread. The white rhino is a shy animal, retiring in temperament, the least observant of the big game, the easiest to approach and, therefore, to poach. Improving road conditions and increasing human populations in once remote areas, made effective management of the animals difficult. The Mount Kei Sanctuary was said to contain few animals, and the population in Otze Forest Reserve retreated into the central and southern sections of the Otze Forest Sanctuary. In the Ogoko area poaching was so serious that the white rhino was reported to be dying out, and in 1957 few animals were reported in the Otze and Kei Sanctuaries. Only in the Ajai-Inde Swamps were they increasing, but even here they had not recovered from the heavy poaching of 1954.
In 1956 the Game Department and the National Parks considered introducing the species into Kabalega Falls National Park, where strict protection was assured, and in March 1961 ten animals were taken there. Four of the ten died, but in June 1964 six more were successfully translocated. These 12 animals were the nucleus of a population considered to be the only hope for the species' survival in Uganda. In the next ten years they multiplied, and by 1974 there were at least 30. But in the Ajai-Inde Swamps and the Otze and Kei Sanctuaries poaching was so heavy that the population dropped from over 335 in 1958 to a mere 80 in 1962. The East African Wildlife Society and WWF provided funds to establish the Ajai Game Reserve to give more stringent protection, but numbers continued to decline - as the table shows. By 1967 there were only 60 white rhino in Ajai Reserve, 18 in Kabalega Falls National Park and hardly any in the Otze and Kei Sanctuaries. In neighbouring Zaire Curry-Lindahl reported a massive decline from 1000 to 100 in the early 1960s.
In 1975 the National Wildlife Committee of Uganda regretfully recorded the white rhino absent in Mount Kei and Otze and other areas; a few survived in the Ajai Game Reserve and in the north-west sector of Kabalega Falls National Park. In February 1978 the present author found only six adults and one juvenile during a ground search in the Ajai. In an aerial elephant count in December 1978 the author recorded 13 rhinoceroses in Kabalega Falls Park, and they were still there in April 1979 (Mr Paul Ssali, pers. comm.). In February 1979 the Game Warden, Ben Kidi (pers. cornm.) believed that no more than four white rhino survived in Ajai. During the 1979 liberation war the white rhinoceros was feared poached out of existence, and at the end of February 1980, during a three-hour aerial search, the author saw none, although two individuals had been reported by rangers six weeks previously. Again in April 1980, in an aerial census with Dr Douglas-Hamilton and Dr Malpas, none were seen, and in a final aerial survey in July 1980 none was seen in Kabalega Park or Ajai Game Reserve. Another independent ground count by Dr Malpas in May 1980 gave the same result and it is now concluded that the elegant white rhino has been eliminated from Uganda by the unscrupulous hand of man. The northern race survives there only in pictures and names such as Rhino Camp and White Rhino Hotel.
Numbers of white rhino in Uganda through the years
Year, Number, Source
1880s, plentiful (Speke and Felkin in Lugard, 1889)
Before 1928, 150 (Pitman 1931)
1928, 130 (Brooks in Cave 1963)
1938, 220 (Salmon 1939, Ann.Rep.Game Dept.Kenya)
1950, 500 (Report 1953)
1951, over 300 (Pitman in Sidney 1965)
1955, 350 (Sidney 1965)
1957, 300 (Sidney 1965)
1958, 335 (Heppes 1958)
1962, 80 (Cave 1962)
1967, 60 (Foster 1967)
1978, 7 (Edroma 1980)
Feb 1979, 4 (Game Warden B.Kidi, pers.comm)

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