Over the past 10 years, BDR has successfully grown their herd of rhinos from an initial 250 to well over 1,600. They are hoping to finally meet their breeding target of 200 rhino calves per year, by the end of this financial year (Feb 2019), and then to sustain this for many years to come. At the moment BDR have around 300 pregnant female rhino, and are on target to meet this BHAG (big hairy audacious goal).
This excellent breeding performance is achieved through establishment of large sub-populations of at least 20-40 founder breeding cows per camp. To adhere to the competition effect, each camp has more than one dominant breeding bull, as well as several sub adult males within the herd, to allow for natural selection by females. All breeding is done 100% naturally without any artificial intervention. To conserve natural social behavior and dynamics, calves and juveniles are allowed to grow up along with their dams (mothers) in their relevant camps.
To prevent and reduce the incidence of possible inbreeding, strict records are kept of all matings, matings leading to births, all births, as well as recorded dams and sires. This ensures that proper population dynamics are maintained and managed by way of an up-to-date studbook.
Additional land onto which new breeding sub-populations can be established, by relocating sub-adult progeny born to the project, is constantly purchased for habitat expansion. This ensures that sub-adult progeny are removed from their dams and sires, as well as ensuring that the current camps do not exceed their relevant carrying capacities. When rhino are translocated into these new camps, a few are selected from each of the existing breeding camps to ensure the newly established camp has the broadest possible gene pool. Any bulls not required for mating are housed in dedicated bachelor camps where they will spend the rest of their natural life.