Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Genetic Management of Wild and Translocated Black Rhinoceros in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Region

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posted on 2021-11-13, 12:58 authored by Anderson-Lederer, Rosalynn Marie

The African black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is critically endangered. Like other megafauna, the species is managed in parks and is often translocated to expand their range into reserves where they have been extirpated. Management of genetic variation has been identified as an important consideration in long-term management plans for many wild and captive endangered species including black rhino. In this thesis I examined the contemporary levels of genetic variation within the black rhinoceros (D. b. minor) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa, and specifically the relict source population at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve (HiP), and how this information can be incorporated into management decisions to improve the long-term viability and persistence of the population. Previous studies have examined levels of genetic variation and differentiation among the three black rhino subspecies (D. b. minor, D. b. michaeli and D. b. bicornis) in an attempt to resolve their taxonomy and to establish baseline genetic assessments for managing populations. However, there has been a lack of genetic information based on the variable mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region of the KZN metapopulation and a direct comparison of microsatellite variability between the D. b. minor populations of KZN and Zimbabwe.  The specific objectives of this study were to: (1) determine the DNA sequence of the mtDNA control region of three subspecies and estimate the level of variation within the HiP source and KZN metapopulation and compare the results with D. b. minor outside KZN and the other two subspecies; (2) use ten microsatellite DNA markers to estimate the levels of heterozygosity and allelic diversity in the HiP source and KZN metapopulation and compare results to previously published microsatellite data (specifically native Zimbabwe D. b. minor; and (3) use VORTEX Population Viability Analysis (PVA) and HiP vital rates to model the effects of increasing population size and supplementation, and investigate what management scenarios would be most effective for minimizing the loss of genetic variation caused by genetic drift with HiP...


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Cell and Molecular Ecology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Biological Sciences


Ritchie, Peter; Linklater, Wayne