The colonization of a new area in the first six months following ‘same-day’ free release translocation of black rhinos in Kenya

F.J. Patton, M.S. Mulama, P.E Campbell


In February 2007, 27 black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) were translocated to an area in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya that contained no resident population. The rhinos were ‘free’ released on the same day of their capture at 11 sites spread throughout the new area in order to minimize future conflict. Free release had not been tried on such a scale in Kenya. Following release, the rhinos were closely monitored through radio tracking and direct observation to record their movements and how quickly they settled in their new environment. In the first six days after release, 17 of the 27 rhinos remained close to their release sites while one individual travelled 35.1 km. All rhinos bar one settled within six months of release; 16 had settled within 25 days. The rhinos moved on average 7.69 km from their release sites with 14.57 km the maximum distance moved. With no reported fights between conspecifics and the ease of settling of the rhinos in their new location, the results obtained from the free release translocation used at Ol Pejeta Conservancy show it to be a useful alternative approach to future rhino translocations.

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