Conservation

Before humans arrived, the rhinoceros gut was an ideal environment for larval development - constant temperature, constant food source and little danger of predators. Unfortunately, as rhinoceros numbers have declined with hunting and poaching, so the numbers of this magnificent fly have declined, to the extent that unless rhinoceros numbers stabilise, there is real potential for this to be an example of co-extinction.

The most recent estimates of rhinoceros numbers (International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2007) indicate that there were 21,660 of both African species in 2007. If all these animals were infested with 100 larvae of Gyrostigma rhinocerontis and the same number of the species lived outside the host as pupae or adults, then only around 4 million individuals would be left in the world today - a very small number for a fly.

Management

It is unlikely that this parasite causes sufficient pathology to warrant treatment, but it is probable that treatment with macrocyclic lactone parasiticides would give effective control as it does with other gasterophilids.

Threats

The major threat to this species is indirectly from humans, who have placed the sole hosts of this species under threat of extinction. It might be possible to maintain the species in rhinoceros in a zoological park but, realistically, the species needs a wild population for its continued existence. However, if ‘wild’ rhinoceros in game parks are treated with parasiticides then the rhinoceros bot fly could be eliminated, so its population remains under great threat.

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