UNRAVELLING THE MYSTERIES OF RIVERINE RABBIT FAMILIES

Esther Matthew, Specialist Conservation Officer, EWT Drylands Conservation Programme

EstherM@ewt.org.za

In another exciting first for conservation, the EWT has captured the first ever photographic evidence of Riverine Rabbit kits (babies) with their mother. This unbelievable image was captured on a camera trap near Loxton, and showed a mother Riverine Rabbit and two kits. This is in line with previous research that has suggested that these elusive rabbits, rather than breeding like the proverbial bunnies, tend to only have one or two kits.

To make this news even more exciting, the area where this image was captured was previously data deficient. This means that no sightings of Riverine Rabbit were previously recorded on this farm. The new discovery takes us one step closer to closing the gaps in our knowledge of the complete distribution range for the species and provides us with more information on their ecology.

The EWT’s Drylands Conservation Programme significantly increased its camera trapping activities in 2019, in both the northern and southern populations of Riverine Rabbits. This has led to several exciting developments, such as the confirmation of the new Baviaanskloof population, and a far greater understanding of the species and their use of habitat.

We would like to thank our funders, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) and the Zoologischen Gesellschaft für Arten und Populationsschutz (ZGAP), for providing ongoing support for our innovative endeavours to uncover the secrets of the iconic Riverine Rabbit.