Wildlife Conservation | Our Goal | Rockwood Conservation
rhino guard in watchtower at sunset

Protection

At Rockwood, we take an aggressive wildlife conservation stance. We do what we must, and what others can’t, to protect the natural environment from exploitation and degradation.

We utilise the latest thermal surveillance, security cameras and mobile camera traps which are monitored 24 hours a day from Rockwood’s Operation Centre. Security stations are manned round the clock by our highly-trained and well-equipped mounted rangers. Our rangers also monitor the health and behaviour of our rhino population.

Sadly, the costs of the upkeep of rhino, with the extensive security measures that are needed, has reduced the incentive for many private landowners and communities to keep rhinos. But there are still private rhino conservations, like Rockwood, willing to invest in breeding and to repopulate new areas with rhinos.

Deco

Relocation

At Rockwood, we support the relocation and repopulation of rhinos into new areas, so that Africa’s Southern white rhino species can thrive on the African continent.

Relocation and repopulation are essential to wildlife conservation restoring biodiversity and the continued survival of any species – when considered and appropriately executed. But without the transfer of necessary skills and resources as well, relocation is often unsuccessful and sometimes disastrous.

Before relocating rhinos to a new area, essential criteria need consideration. First, the habitat must be suitable for the species. White rhinos need to be in areas that provide large grassy areas where they can graze.

Second, the risk of poaching. Moving rhinos from a safe haven like Rockwood with sufficient security measures to an area with little or no security or where poaching is likely to happen would be irresponsible.

rhinos grazing in camp

Repopulation

Our ultimate goal is to see rhino roam free, which means working in conjunction with other organisations and groups in wildlife conservation to realise our dream of seeing a safe and healthy wild population of rhinos.

Rhinos are crucial to the environment. They’re what is called an “umbrella” species. Their well-being affects other species in their ecological sphere. When we protect umbrella species in the wild, other species are protected too.

Rhinos are critical for the overall structure and function of an ecosystem by influencing the types of flora and fauna that make up that environment.

Repopulation is also necessary for genetic diversity. Captive breeding of endangered animals allows scientists to increase the gene pool of a species. In the wild, this is not possible. Genetic diversity is particularly crucial where rhino populations numbers are as low as they are. Repopulating areas of few or no rhino is vital for increasing genetic diversity and preventing genetic stagnation.

Rockwood’s goal is to achieve healthy genetic diversity within our population of Southern white rhinos. We do this by obtaining and studying a detailed DNA profile on each of our rhinos. Then select which males and females to breed, aiming to create the largest diverse gene pool possible.

Rehabilitation

Currently, Rockwood relies on a nearby partner to nurse young orphaned rhino calves that come to us until they’re able to join our population. Rockwood is in the process of building and on-site facility to properly care for future generations of rhino.
ranger with sedated rhino
ranger walking next to rhino calf

Research

If you’re a student and wish to conduct once-in-a-lifetime research for your Masters or PhD Rockwood’s gates are open.

At Rockwood, you will have the support of our rangers and research scientists. Plus, the use of our on- site laboratory and willing volunteers to assist with data capturing and in-field sampling. You will also be able to work with and be supervised from our wildlife conservation scientists.

Limited space is available.  Apply to become a student scientist

RESEARCH PROJECTS:

In collaboration with universities and Hemmersbach Rhino Force CryoVault, Rockwood identified specific research projects and opportunities to further rhino species prosperity. These studies include:

RHINO MILK NUTRITION

Often, poachers kill mother rhinos in front of their calf leaving them orphaned. Those lucky calves found in time are rescued and hand reared by human handlers. The benefits of Rhino milk are not fully known and we’re looking at how to improve the health of these orphans and the species in general.

RHINO GENETIC PRESERVATION

In partnership with Hemmersbach Rhino Force CryoVault, their genetic experts collected valuable genetic material from healthy adult male and female Rhinos at Rockwood to create a ‘frozen ark’. Watch more about the project below.

researchers analyzing sedated rhino