Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Hulsman A.,Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals | Hulsman A.,University Utrecht | Dalerum F.,University of Pretoria | Swanepoel L.,University of Pretoria | And 4 more authors.
Wildlife Biology | Year: 2010

The brown hyaena Hyaena brunnea is a near threatened large carnivore inhabiting sub-Saharan Africa. Like many other species of terrestrial carnivores, brown hyaenas often and repeatedly deposit scats at specific latrine sites as a means of olfactory communication. However, previous studies on brown hyaena latrine use have been constrained to the arid Kalahari region in southern Africa, an area of low resource abundance. To improve our understanding of geographic variation in the biology of this species, we monitored patterns of brown hyaena scat deposition in the Waterberg of northern South Africa, an area of higher net productivity than previous areas for published brown hyaena studies. Defecation rates at latrine sites were low in our study area (median: < 1 defecation in 30 days), but brown hyaenas visited sites significantly more often than they defecated at them (median: 2.6 visits/30 days). The temporal patterns of activity at defecation sites were significantly related to the overall temporal activity patterns of brown hyaenas on the roads within the reserve, and generally confirmed a nocturnal activity pattern in the species. Our result on brown hyaena scat deposition in the Waterberg region indicates a geographic variation in latrine use, and we suggest that such a variation could be linked to resource-driven variation in social and spatial organisation. © 2010 Wildlife Biology, NKV.


van der Goot A.C.,University of Western Australia | van der Goot A.C.,University of Pretoria | Martin G.B.,University of Western Australia | Millar R.P.,University of Pretoria | And 3 more authors.
Animal Reproduction Science | Year: 2015

Unlike their wild counterparts, many white rhinoceros females in captivity fail to reproduce successfully such that current captive populations are not self-sustaining. The causes of the problem are poorly understood. Variation in cycle length and long periods of acyclicity are characteristics of the majority of these non-reproducing females in captivity but it is unknown whether these characteristics are a feature of reproductively successful free-ranging females. This study therefore aimed to monitor cyclic activity in a wild population of southern white rhinoceros at Lapalala Wilderness, South Africa, by measuring the concentrations of immunoreactive fecal progestagen metabolites (fPM). Five adult females were tracked twice per week for 20 months and if located a fresh fecal sample was collected. Reproductive events and group structural dynamics were also recorded and subsequently correlated with the fPM data. The baseline concentration of fPM was 0.69 ± 0.20 μg/g DW while concentrations during pregnancy were 30-400-fold higher. The females exhibited estrous cycle lengths of 30.6 ± 7.7 days and, based on fPM data, gestation length in one female was 502 ± 3 days. Year-round monitoring showed no clear evidence of seasonality in ovarian activity. During cyclic luteal activity females were often seen in the presence of a dominant bull. One female stopped cycling after removal of the local dominant bull and luteal activity only returned after a new bull was introduced. This suggests that white rhinoceros females in the wild might need external stimuli from a male to ovulate. These findings indicate that the irregular cyclicity reported for white rhinoceros housed in zoos and animal parks may result from conditions in captivity and account for reduced fertility. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Hulsman A.,Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals | Hulsman A.,University Utrecht | Dalerum F.,University of Pretoria | Ganswindt A.,University of Pretoria | And 4 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2011

The brown hyaena (Hyaena brunnea) is the least known of the large predators of southern Africa. The current IUCN status of the brown hyaena is "Near Threatened", and there are conservation concerns related to a general lack of biological knowledge of the species. For instance, a better knowledge of the responses to environmental and social stressors would improve our abilities to sustainably manage brown hyaena populations in both captive and free-ranging environments. We conducted adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) challenges in one female and one male adult brown hyaena at Lion Park Zoo, South Africa, to validate measurements of glucocorticoid metabolites (GCM) in brown hyaena feces via an enzyme immunoassay (EIA). We also measured gastrointestinal transit times (GIT times) and the GCM degradation in feces left in ambient temperature for up to 32hr to more reliably assess the use of this assay as a tool for non-invasive glucocorticoid measurements. Intramuscular injections of synthetic ACTH yielded GCM levels of 388% (female) and 2,682% (male) above baseline with peak increases occurring 25- to 40-hr after injection. The time delay of fecal GCM excretion approximately corresponded with food transit time in the brown hyaenas. Fecal GCM levels declined significantly over time since defecation. Our results provided a good validation that fecal GCMs accurately reflect circulating glucocorticoid stress hormones in brown hyaenas, but we highlight that samples have to be frozen immediately after defecation to avoid bias in the measurements as a result of bacterial degredation. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc..


Van Der Goot A.C.,University of Western Australia | Van Der Goot A.C.,University of Pretoria | Van Der Goot A.C.,Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals | Dalerum F.,University of Pretoria | And 9 more authors.
African Zoology | Year: 2013

Knowledge of the reproductive biology of wild animals can provide valuable information for the development of appropriate in situ and ex situ management plans. The present study aimed to establish a non-invasive protocol for monitoring faecal progestagen metabolite (FPM) patterns in wild female southern white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum simum). Six adult females at Lapalala Wilderness, South Africa, were tracked and accurately identified at least once every week. Three animals gave birth during the study period. Fresh faecal samples were collected for 12 months and stored frozen at -20°C until analysis with an enzyme immunoassay utilizing an antiserum raised against 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-one which cross-reacts with a number of progestagens. Mean FPM concentrations were 35 to 64-fold higher during pregnancy (55-145 days before parturition) compared to postpartum (120-140 days after parturition) (P < 0.001). Also, the non-pregnant animals had mean FPM concentrations significantly higher than postpartum values (P = 0.006). Our results show that non-invasive FPM measurements provide information on the pregnancy status of wild female white rhinoceroses, and may be used for the detection of pregnancy in free-living individuals, without the necessity of immobilization and/or relocation of the animal. This information has potential value for optimizing breeding management of wild and captive populations.


PubMed | Institute for Breeding Rare and Endangered African Mammals, University of Edinburgh, University of Pretoria and University of Western Australia
Type: | Journal: Animal reproduction science | Year: 2015

Unlike their wild counterparts, many white rhinoceros females in captivity fail to reproduce successfully such that current captive populations are not self-sustaining. The causes of the problem are poorly understood. Variation in cycle length and long periods of acyclicity are characteristics of the majority of these non-reproducing females in captivity but it is unknown whether these characteristics are a feature of reproductively successful free-ranging females. This study therefore aimed to monitor cyclic activity in a wild population of southern white rhinoceros at Lapalala Wilderness, South Africa, by measuring the concentrations of immunoreactive fecal progestagen metabolites (fPM). Five adult females were tracked twice per week for 20 months and if located a fresh fecal sample was collected. Reproductive events and group structural dynamics were also recorded and subsequently correlated with the fPM data. The baseline concentration of fPM was 0.690.20g/g DW while concentrations during pregnancy were 30-400-fold higher. The females exhibited estrous cycle lengths of 30.67.7 days and, based on fPM data, gestation length in one female was 5023 days. Year-round monitoring showed no clear evidence of seasonality in ovarian activity. During cyclic luteal activity females were often seen in the presence of a dominant bull. One female stopped cycling after removal of the local dominant bull and luteal activity only returned after a new bull was introduced. This suggests that white rhinoceros females in the wild might need external stimuli from a male to ovulate. These findings indicate that the irregular cyclicity reported for white rhinoceros housed in zoos and animal parks may result from conditions in captivity and account for reduced fertility.

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