Emeritus Professor Eric Harley, University of Cape Town

This first lecture outlines the evolutionary history and geographic distribution of the five extant species of rhinoceros and shows their relationships with other ungulate groups. The unfortunate and problematic demand for rhinoceros horn has accentuated their plight, to the extent that many rhinoceros species now face extinction. Other problems face some rhino species in captivity – inappropriate feed can lead to iron overload and anaemia in the black rhinoceros, and the white rhinoceros is difficult to breed in a zoo environment. The second lecture will describe the conservation efforts under way to try and counter the decline in rhino numbers, show how molecular genetic techniques assist these efforts, and how modern advances in reproductive physiology and cell biology can contribute to maintaining rhino population numbers, especially when, as in the case of the Northern White Rhinoceros, the decline has reached critical levels.



1. The decline of the five extant species of rhinoceros

2. Ways and means of countering this decline, and hopes for the future


Recommended reading

Harley, E.H, de Waal, M., Murray, S. and O’Ryan, C. 2016. Comparison of whole mitochondrial genome sequences of northern and southern white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum): The conservation consequences of species definitions. Conservation Genetics, (1–7. DOI 10.1007/s10592-016-0861-2

Moodle, Y.  et al. 2017. Extinctions, genetic erosion and conservation options for the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis). Sci. Rep. 7, 41417; doi: 10.1038/srep41417.

Emslie, R. and Knight, M.H. 2014. Update on African Rhino Status and Poaching Trends from IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) IUCN Report for 65th CITES Standing Committee Meeting.

Weber, B., Paglia, D. and Harley, E.H. 2004. Elevated Free Tyrosine in Rhinoceros Erythrocytes.  Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 138 105–109.



Date: Thursday 24 – Friday 25 January 
Time: 9.15 am
COURSE FEES Full: R220,00  Staff and Students R110,00
Venue: LT2 Kramer Law Building UCT