The sultry baritone of Barry White these sounds were not: the rumble of a plane, passing cars, the voices of park staff and visitors. Wiseman and her colleagues caution that the results, presented Friday at an Acoustical Society of America conference, consist of only one zoo and have not made a concrete link between rhino reproductive health and too much noise. They point out, however, that noise can adversely affect human reproduction.
"One of my questions is if there's a continuum - from natural soundscape on one end to completely urban, completely anthrophonic - then is there somewhere along that continuum where an animal, particularly a rhinoceros, stops being healthy?" Wiseman says.
Considering the toll that poaching and habitat loss have taken on rhinos - white rhinos, for example, are listed as a near-threatened species by the IUCN - captive breeding programs offer a way to ensure the next generation of the animals. Rhinos have, historically, been reluctant to mate while in human care. Wiseman suggests that zoos could opt for quieter electric vehicles and erect sound-absorbing barriers near sensitive creatures. And preserving wild rhinos in their natural habitats is, of course, a crucial aspect of long-term conservation.