As part of our Long Term Wildlife Volunteers placement, students have been feeding our Rhinos what the need to stay healthy!
Rhino Substitute feeding in relation to ecological management: During South Africa’s dry season and years where rain has been minimal, our 35,000 reserve must feed target members of our Rhino (and other large fauna) populations. This ensures that the environment these animals and other species rely on does not become over utilizes, risking erosion and other negative effects on the ecosystem. The process of substitute feeding might not been seen as a “natural” function of an ecosystem, however, as the majority of Africa’s wildlife reserves are fences, natural mechanisms such as species migration are disrupted and wildlife management strategies like substitute feeding are essential for the longevity of species and the overall ecosystems health.
There are other key reasons for substituting the diet of Rhino and other large animals such as injury, pregnancy or disease and needing additional nutrition during these times. However, it is important to ensure that animals do not grow dependant on human intervention which could otherwise prevent natural foraging behaviour or over habituation to humans. As always, balance is key in any ecosystem.