Determining minimum population size and demographics of black rhinos in the Salient of Aberdare National Park, Kenya

Felix Patton, Martin Jones

Abstract


Photographic identification techniques were applied in the Salient of Aberdare National Park, an area known to be one of the most difficult in Kenya for sighting and identifying black rhinos (Diceros bicornis). A method of assessing photographs visually was used to identify individuals. Individual identification features were recorded and an identification description written for each rhino. Descriptions were reduced to ‘descriptors’ and
combined with appropriate photographs in a searchable Access database; a simple sighting recording system that could be used in conjunction with the database was developed. The database and a standard method of describing the identification features of each of the rhinos enabled details of individuals to be disseminated, patrol rangers trained to identify individuals accurately, minimum population demography to be described
and changes in minimum population size, from potentially 23 in 2003 down to possibly only 7 individuals in 2005, to be observed. Resighting some of the rhinos was a problem, and there was concern that the significant reduction in the number of previously identified individuals may have been due to poaching.

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