Marataba and Marakele National Park are home to a critically important population of white and black rhino, which, similarly to all other rhino populations on the continent, is under pressure from several threats. The most serious threat is the current onslaught of rhinoceros poaching for their horn, which has escalated since 2008 to the point where there have been more than 10 000 white rhino poached annually in South Africa alone, forcing the rhino population into a decline.
We need to evaluate population performance of our rhino and be able to detect trends to ensure the protection and existence of white rhino in the park. Challenges in detecting population trends are associated with the long life-history of white rhino, which results in only small annual changes in population which are difficult to detect.
Ear notch ID
An individual recognition system using an ear notching pattern has been implemented at Marataba and in time, we will be able to estimate a minimum number of animals alive at any point in time. Learn how to identify rhinos through their ear notches, an experience that can be done at any stage on a game drive. Just by observing these magnificent animals, you start to understand some of the work and monitoring that takes place.
Rhino Conservation Safaris
Notching is an ongoing intervention at Marataba and our long-term objective is to have every single rhino at Marataba identified. Throughout the year, we run three-day Rhino Conservation Safaris, dedicated to the notching of the animals – and you are invited to join us!
During a rhino notching, you will help immobilise and notch the animal and insert a DNA microchip into the horns and body. Tissue is collected and the DNA is submitted to the RHoDIS database (Rhinoceros DNA indexing system), a national DNA database maintained by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria that is kept to provide forensic evidence related to the provenance of confiscated rhinoceros horns.