Translocation is increasingly common in conservation but remains controversial due, in part, to limited information. Here, in a brief study, we consider the translocation of the southern white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum simum to a fenced 64-km2 reserve in Uganda (a replacement for the locally extinct native northern subspecies, Ceratotherium simum cottoni). We examined the condition, behavior, and habitat use of two female-calf groups. Rhinos were least active during the early afternoon. Both groups spent more time feeding in Microchloa kunthii grasslands than expected given the small extent of such areas but spent most time in the more abundant woodlands and Hyparrhenia grasslands. The small ranges of the two groups, 11.8 and 9.0 km2 (100 h of observations over a 1-month period in 2011), and their apparent good health suggest satisfactory feeding conditions. Reassuringly, we identify no concerns but also note that our judgments are constrained by limited information and guidance. There is scope for novel observations, for example, our observations suggest that mothers lead calves more frequently in habitats with reduced visibility versus more open habitats. Every translocation is an experiment, but lessons will be lost without greater emphasis on transparency and assessments.
- evidence-based conservation
- habitat use