Title (eng)

The effects of feeding and transport length on the welfare of white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum simum) during long-distance translocations: a preliminary study


M. Leiberich   University of Pretoria

L. C. R. Meyer   University of Pretoria

M. Reuben   Department of Wildlife and National Parks

D. Cooper   Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

M. Hofmeyr   Botswana and Rhino Recovery Fund/Wildlife Conservation Network and Oak Foundation

E.H. Hooijberg   University of Pretoria

F. Pohlin   University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna / University of Pretoria


Medpharm Publications PTY LTD

Description (eng)

Translocation is a valuable conservation tool, but poses significant risks for the transported rhinoceroses. Interventions reducing these risks are required to ensure positive welfare during transportation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of journey duration and feeding during the transport of white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum simum). A total of 32 animals were transported by road during two events, five days apart. Fifteen rhinoceroses in the first transport event (37.0 ± 2.4 hr duration) were not fed, while 17 rhinoceroses in the second event (32.2 ± 1.5 hr duration) were offered lucerne. Blood samples were collected at capture and after transport for the evaluation of changes in serum clinical chemistry analytes. The Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used to compare differences between the groups. In all rhinoceroses, transport resulted in changes in serum electrolyte, metabolite and enzyme concentrations, indicating a loss in total body water, nutritional shifts, stress and fatigue. Fed rhinoceroses, transported over a shorter time, displayed greater changes in osmolality (p< 0.006), serum sodium and chloride concentrations (p = 0.005 and = 0.001, respectively) indicating a greater degree of total body water loss than non-fed rhinoceroses. Feeding and a shorter transport duration reduced, but did not prevent, nutritional challenges. A greater increase in the muscle enzymes CK and AST (p = 0.027 and = 0.001, respectively), indicated greater fatigue in non-fed rhinoceroses transported over a longer time. Further work to distinguish the effects of feeding and journey duration is required to better understand the role feeding may play in mitigating welfare challenges during rhinoceros translocation.

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Stress; Physiology; Chemistry; Horses

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