Special Session: Science-based meta-population management for recovery of species in crisis: a case study using black rhinoceros

Strategic meta-population management has been fundamental to the recovery of the black rhinoceros from less than 2,500 individuals to more than 5,000 and a situation where continental population growth rates continue to mitigate poaching losses. Species recovery through good biological management is dependent upon strong science from a genetic to an individual to a population level, yet in recent years the focus on rhino science and management has in some ways understandably been eclipsed by security priorities.

In March 2018, WWF SA and partners convened a workshop to achieve a number of goals related to the science and management of rhino conservation in the SADC region. These included identifying the most important issues being faced in rhino conservation, reviewing our current status including new science and initiatives, identifying lessons learnt since an earlier influential meeting on biological management held at Giants Castle in 2001 and identifying gaps in our knowledge that need addressing. Managers and researchers, from SADC and further afield, who were currently involved in rhino conservation, were invited to participate in the workshop. The workshop resulted in the development of a Rhino Manager's Handbook, a concise best practice guideline for the biological management of African rhino.

The aim of this session is to use black rhinoceros as a case study to review science-based meta-population management for the recovery of species in crisis. The presenters will review what has been learned from this example to date, share some of the latest black rhino science and thinking, look ahead for future priorities for rhino science and lessons for other species and distribute a tool to disseminate rhino science to park managers. This session will be followed by a facilitated discussion with the presenters both looking ahead to future threats and opportunities and how we pre-empt them as well as assessing whether there are parallel lessons for other species.

Open session – researchers and practitioners are encouraged to submit relevant presentations for inclusion in this session. Participation in the session during the Symposium is open to all. Submissions that cannot be incorporated into the session by the convener will be considered for general sessions in the remainder of the programme.

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