Black Rhino Study
Tina M. Martinez, 800.243.2345
June 2, 2010
DENVER— Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) recognizes that animal health research is critically important for giving veterinarians and scientists the tools they need to better prevent, diagnose and treat illness in their animal patients and to help wild species survive and thrive. The Foundation is currently funding a two-year study that will look at the respiratory and thermoregulatory patterns of black rhinoceros during field capture.
Currently this MAF-funded study is being led by , Dr. Robin Radcliffe of the International Rhino Foundation's Rhino Conservation Medicine Program and Dr. Robin Gleed of Cornell University and is taking place in Namibia, which has one of Africa's largest populations of endangered black rhinos. Effective conservation of black rhino requires active management; this involves moving individuals in order to maintain genetic diversity and to remove animals from areas where they are at risk from poaching, transponder marking, and making physical measurements for assessing health status. This requires capture and anesthesia. Although this is routine, capture-related deaths remain unacceptably high. Of particular concern are life-threatening respiratory and muscle disorders. The researchers' preliminary data suggest that the rhino's posture after capture may influence breathing and blood lactate levels, which contribute to these disorders.
This study will help determine the posture that provides the best outcome for anesthetized rhinos. Improving translocation success is a top research priority for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Rhinoceros Research Council, and understanding the effects of posture will help veterinarians in range countries reduce morbidity and mortality of rhinos undergoing capture and translocation.