Human approach trials on tagged rhino raw data

Published: 04-04-2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/55ynhhv7sp.1
Roan Plotz


We ran a human approach experiment, where one researcher would walk towards the rhino from crosswind while another recorded the rhino’s behaviour. We recorded the number of oxpecker carried, the rhinos’ behaviour upon approach, and the distance of the researcher when the rhino either became vigilant or if undetected it became unsafe to get any closer. We predicted that oxpecker would improve rhino’s ability to detect humans and from further away. Our approach trial experiment found that rhinos without oxpeckers detected a human approaching only 23% of the time. Due to the bird’s alarm call, those with oxpeckers detected the approaching human in 100% of our trials and at an average distance of 61 meters- nearly four times further than when rhinos were alone. In fact, the more oxpecker the rhino carried, the greater the distance at which a human was detected. We also found that when rhino perceived the oxpecker alarm call, it nearly always re-oriented itself to face downwind—their sensory blind spot. Once a rhino checked its blind spot, it either ran upwind out of view, walked downwind to investigate, or maintained its position until the field team moved out of sight. This raw data set of human approach trials consists of 5 worksheets detailed below: 1. Human approach trials without oxpecker present: Data used to develop Figure 2A 2. Human approach trials with oxpecker present: Data used to develop Figure 2A 3. Oxpecker number versus rhino human detection distance: Data used to develop Figure 2B. 4. Rhino orientation with and without oxpeckers: Data used to develop Figure 2C. 5. Summary of rhino orientation analysis: See Figure 2C