Actual observations of black rhinoceros predation are rarely reported and are limited to two incidences involving subadults. Nevertheless, some authors attribute tail and ear deformities in up to 7.1% of some populations to predation attempts. In August 2008 we observed a mother with dependent c. 8-month-old female black rhinoceros calf in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. The calf had a recently amputated tail, wounds to the anogenital region, right posterior flank and right side of the neck resembling a lion attack. Thirteen days later and on three subsequent occasions, the mother was sighted alone, suggesting that the calf had succumbed to its injuries. This incident provides evidence to suggest a link between attempted lion predation and tail amputation in black rhinoceros. Significantly, it implies that amputated tails and ears throughout Africa may represent failed depredation attempts and that calf predation may be more prevalent than previously appreciated. Predation is seldom considered in the management of black rhinoceros but should be when attributing cause to poor population performance of this critically endangered species.
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Vol. 44 • No. 2