They investigated the most effective ways of deterring rhinos from danger areas such as near perimeter fences where poachers often operate and spent six months on a South African game reserve testing the most effective way of persuading the animals to move to safer areas.
Poaching, fuelled by the international trade in horn, has caused the deaths of over 1,000 white and black rhinoceros per year between 2013 and 2017 and South Africa alone lost 5,476 rhinoceros to poaching between 2006 and 2016.
Lead researcher Samuel Penny, PhD student and lecturer in the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, exposed a population of southern white rhinos to drones, sirens and the sound of a swarm of bees to see which best encouraged them to move.
They also tried scattering different smells including chilli to deter the rhinos from danger areas.
He said: “We exposed them to each stimulus up to four times and discovered that rhinos travelled significantly further in response to the siren than to other noises and to low-altitude drone flights than to higher altitude flights.