Caroline Rees
United Kingdom UK
Mar 13, 2014 March 13, 2014

Currently working towards a PhD in rhino ecology in collaboration with Bristol University.

Categories: African Wildlife, Conservation & Sustainability, Remarkable Projects

 

Help Protect the Rhino

Let's help protect the rhino. Caroline Rees is an independent researcher who is carrying out a project to monitor the behaviour of six rhino recently introduced to the Okavango Delta. The results of this research will contribute to our understanding of the rhino’s behaviour following their release into this new environment. It will have great potential to aid in any further conservation efforts by increasing our knowledge about this magnificent and endangered species.

About me

My name is Caroline Rees and I come from Wales in the UK. Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

Less than five years ago I was working in a busy office as an IT engineer. Motivated by my passion for wildlife and conservation, I resigned from my job and was accepted at Cardiff University to complete my BSc Zoology degree as a mature student.

After graduation, I felt that I needed a new challenge. So I volunteered as a researcher collecting field data on the endangered golden monkey in the Virunga Mountains of Uganda. Being based on the border with Rwanda and the Congo, as well as living at altitude with no modern amenities, presented a unique set of challenges.

Once I returned to the UK, my immediate instinct was to get back to Africa as soon as possible. But I wanted to be involved with a project where I could once again contribute to ensuring the preservation of an endangered species. My ultimate goal is to make a difference.

I became aware that rhino poaching in South Africa has reached shocking levels. The current crisis faced by the species determined me to pack up my belonging and fly back to Africa. To help protect the rhino.

About my research

The research I am doing is in conjunction with Bristol University and will form the foundation for my PhD. The six rhinoceroses that I am studying were relocated from South Africa to Botswana.

As part of my research, I will discover what habitat and resource preferences the rhino are demonstrating and how this affects their home ranges. I will investigate how the use of space by the rhino changes according to the season, their sex and time. I will also be analysing the dynamics of their social bonds.

My findings will provide important information about how well the introduced rhino adapt to their new environment, thus supplying the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and other parties with information that will contribute to the success of future relocations, not just in Botswana but across the continent.

My project will help to facilitate securing a future for Africa’s rhino. Currently one rhino is poached every 9 hours in South Africa. We must protect the rhino.

Rhino_Research

In the bush

My day usually starts at a blurry-eyed 5:30 am. My team and I load our camping gear into the vehicle. We decide which rhino we are going to look for that day and then set off in search. Then we go to the last known location of the rhino. Next, we then use GPS, VHF rhino transmitters and traditional tracking methods to find it. The rhino can travel great distances in a short time. And it’s strange how something so big can be so difficult to find at times!

When we find the rhino, I record spatial and behavioural data.  We check that the rhino look healthy. The rhino usually find some nice, thick bush to snooze in during the heat of the day. So this is a good time for the team to take a break, too.

The landscape of the Okavango Delta can be very challenging. Sometimes we track the rhino for hours, only to discover that they have crossed onto an island that is accessible only to animals! Even with a 4x4 vehicle the water in the Delta can rise to a level that we cannot cross.

After a day of recording rhino behaviour and habitat sampling, we set up camp for the night. We light a fire to keep wild animals at bay. And we settle down for what is hopefully a good night’s sleep. It’s an early night for us, followed by another early start in search of the rhino.

Conservation efforts to protect the rhino

If you would like to know more about Caroline's (and her team) research please visit them on Facebook. At SafariBookings, we are committed to supporting wildlife conservation efforts - not the least of which is the fight against poaching. Read about the three wildlife conservation companies who were the final contenders in our Rhino Donation Campaign, by following our blog. We'll keep you up to date on outstanding and dedicated conservation efforts like those of Caroline Rees and team.