Non-invasing reproductive monitoring of six female wild rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum simum)
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Gaining knowledge of the reproductive status of wild animals can provide invaluable information that may assist in making appropriate conservation management programs. This study was a part of a long term non-invasive reproductive study in wild southern white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum simum) females in the Lapalala Wilderness in South Africa. Six females were monitored non-invasively using fecal progestagen analysis during a 4 months period. The purpose of this study was to determine the oestrus cycle of wild female white rhinoceroses and to non-invasively determine pregnancy. Fresh fecal samples were attempted to be collected on a regular basis (ideally twice per week) from each of the six females. The samples were freeze-dried and extracted and an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was performed. The fecal progestagen profiles were highly variable between the different females. Because of the difficulty of finding the rhinoceroses on a regular basis it proved to be difficult to determine the oestrus cycles of these females. However, the progestagen profiles showed a significant difference between pregnant and non-pregnant periods. Non-invasive measurement of progestagen levels could therefore be implicated in wildlife management for determining pregnancy in wild female white rhinoceroses.