Ensuring the long-term survival of rhinos requires a multi-pronged approach. Given the current levels of poaching, rhino protection, law enforcement, investigations and intelligence are currently considered by rhino conservationists in African rhino range states as a top priority (African Rhino Range States’ African Rhino Conservation Plan, 2016). In addition, adequate financing, biological management guided by effective monitoring as well as range expansion, coordination between range states, securing socio-economic benefits to people living with or near wildlife (incentivising and securing support for rhino conservation by improving livelihoods and empowering local people), political support, public support (through targeted communication) and capacity (sufficient, skilled and appropriately equipped human resources) are key components in achieving successful conservation of African rhino (African Rhino Range States’ African Rhino Conservation Plan, 2016).

Indeed, effective conservation of rhinos requires a multi-pronged, multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach. The fight against poaching is complex, and there is no single silver bullet to stop the current onslaught, while in parallel the management of rhino for maximum productivity has also been challenging, especially for black rhino. On the ground, in addition to intensified armed field ranger patrols, various management actions have been implemented, including dehorning which has been widely and successfully used on private game reserves, while the latest technology is also being put to use, for example drones, patrol monitoring systems, intelligence management systems and even camera traps. At a strategic level, some have argued for demand reduction programmes, while others have argued that the only remaining option is a carefully regulated legal trade, where the revenue generated from sales would fund rhino conservation and protection, while at the same time providing an incentive for their sustainable use and their long-term protection.

This session will not only provide an update on the status of rhino populations, levels of poaching and anti-poaching successes, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, but will also provide a platform for other current rhino-related issues to be discussed. The session will comprise at least four formal presentations followed by a panel discussion period. In the light of the recent lifting on of the ban on domestic trade of rhino horn in SA, Magdel Boshoff (Department of Environmental Affairs), who has been working on the draft regulations pertaining to domestic horn trade will present on the on the considerations that inform the final regulations. Dr. Peter Goodman (Wildlife Conservation Solutions, Technical Advisor to the KZN Rhino Management Group) will provide an update on the biological performance and status of black and white rhino in KwaZulu-Natal, while Cedric Coetzee (KZN Wildlife Rhino Security Manager) will provide an update on poaching and anti-poaching efforts in KZN. Dr Chris Barichievy (Zoological Society of London) will present a paper showing the value of field ranger patrol monitoring data in determining effectiveness against poaching and the value of scientifically analysing such data for implementing adaptive management to more effectively deploy limited resources. Additional presentations identified from abstract submissions may also be included in this session.