Between November 2002 and October 2006, blood samples were collected from 46 black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) originating from various national parks and game reserves within South Africa. The samples were divided into two groups, based on the black rhinoceros subspecies from which they originated: twenty-eight (n = 28) of the samples originated from subspecies D. b. bicornis, and eighteen (n = 18) from subspecies D. b. minor. DNA was extracted; the V4 hypervariable region of the 18S rRNA gene amplified and subjected to the Reverse Line Blot (RLB) hybridization assay. The RLB results demonstrated the presence of either Theileria bicornis or Babesia bicornis in 9 of the 46 samples examined. A further three PCR products failed to hybridize with any of the Babesia or Theileria species-specific probes, and only hybridized with the Babesia/Theileria genus-specific probe, suggesting the presence of a novel species or variant of a species. Samples collected from black rhinoceroses originating from the more arid areas of South Africa, Tswalu Game Reserve and the old Vaalbos National Park, were found to be apparently free of T. bicornis and B. bicornis piroplasms. Based on these findings, it was concluded that B. bicornis and T. bicornis are relatively widespread in black rhinoceros populations in South Africa and pose a potential risk to the success of metapopulation management programs. Of the two black rhinoceros subspecies that occur in South Africa, D. b. bicornis is at greater risk due to their apparently Babesia/Theileria-naïve status in certain areas, when compared to the subspecies D. b. minor. Conservation managers need to carefully evaluate methods and procedures during the translocation of black rhinoceroses, especially when relocating from geographically and climatically diverse ecosystems and more so when dealing with the subspecies D. b. bicornis. Copyright
Dissertation (MSc (Veterinary Tropical Diseases))--University of Pretoria, 2010.