From the Field…

PREDICT country coordinator, Harrison Sadiki, reports on his wildlife darting course in Zimbabwe!

I arrived in Zim (Zimbabwe) on the 10th of February and spend one night in Harare, a clean and well planned city. On the 11th of February, we started our trip to Malilangwe Community Trust which is 495Km, six hours drive south east. It was a late evening and almost all were tired after a long drive and flight. The forty course participants were from different countries including USA, Netherlands, Czech Republic, England, India, Switzerland, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe itself. The majority of  participants were not veterinarians, but people who had been working in wildlife sector and are required by law to have licenses to handle wildlife drugs. The course was well planned and  organized, and very busy!

We started by lecturers in Hakamela campsite in the morning and followed by a practical (postmortem of an Impala) to complement the anatomy and physiology of the body with how the body responds to drugs., The 1st day focused on physiology of the respiratory system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, and digestive system, as well as basic pharmacology. And the last things on our schedule were soccer and sundowners!

The second day, we woke up at 4:30am and we immobilized Eland and buffalo in a captive breeding center, about 500m from the Hakamela campsite. On this day, the main points were immobilization drugs, the principles of physical and chemical capture, and restraint of the wild animals. In the evening, I had my first opportunity to dart from a  helicopter. I was so nervous and missed the target on the first try, but I hit the target (which was on a moving Land Cruiser to simulate how fast the animals move) the second time. It was fantastic!

The following Day we participated in a boma capture, where we managed to capture three wildebeest that were chased in by the helicopter for about 2km.  On the next boma capture, the helicopter directed more animals into the enclosure and we managed to capture and sample more than 30 Impala. Later that day,  we also observed how the drop nets operate from the helicopter.

The following days I was involved in Giraffe capture (where we walked to the giraffe to its crate ready for transport), Elephant  capture, Rhino capture (white and black and the challenges between the two species), Donkey capture, and Hippo capture. The main focuses on all the capture were:

  • How the drug combinations work, what complications can arise, and how the body responds
  • Positioning of the animals after darting and during the induction, lateral and sternal recumbence
  • How to deal with the capture complications
  • Different species respond differently to the same drug combinations
  • Minimizing stress as much as you can on for the animals

After all lectures and practical we had break swooting (preparation before the exams in Shona language) followed by  a party on the evening of the 18th with the Malilangwe community, where we tasted the braai (barbeque in Shona language) .Thank you HALI project for supporting my trip to the course.

The HALI team members were excited to hear stories of Harrison’s amazing experiences at the darting course and look forward to learning more from him about field captures!

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