Influence of density on the seasonal utilization of broad grassland types by white rhinoceroses
We monitored seasonal use of grassland types by white rhinos at two sites within the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HiP). Thirty-two rhinos were removed from one site to reduce rhino density. Seasonal use of grassland types was similar at both sites, but differed to what a previous study reported. This was likely due to higher food availability during our study, coupled with lower white rhino density. These findings suggest that during high rainfall years, white rhinos at a density of 3/km2 will not overutilize food in the park. Dispersal, initiated by declining food resources, is used to manage white rhino population size in HiP. We suggest that during high rainfall years it is unlikely that dispersal rates will increase. The impact that a similar density would have on food availability and dispersal during low rainfall years is uncertain.
Key words: herbivore density, habitat utilization, white rhinoceros.