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Conservation Services

Game Capture & Translocation

Buffalo

  • Buffalo can be darted from a vehicle
  • The use of a helicopter is essential when darting a group of animals out of a herd. A group of 20 to 25 animals is separated out from the herd using the helicopter. This group is guided to an open site and then herded in a circular direction using the helicopter. As the group is circling suitable animals are selected from the outer edge of the group and darted. Once 12 to 15 animals have been darted they are kept bunched together by the circling helicopter until the drugs take effect and they become recumbent. Once all the darted animals are recumbent the ground team moves in and secures the animals.
  • Each animal is blindfolded, placed in sternal recumbency and the head is held in an elevated position.
  • Buffalo are very sensitive to hyperthermia and should not be captured at ambient temperatures higher than 28°C. Animals should be doused with copious amounts of water to keep them cool.
  • Avoid capturing animals on wet and soggy ground as they often develop muscular-skeletal problems, including capture myopathy and tendon avulsions, due to excessive muscular exertion.
  • Avoid immobilizing animals soon after they have drunken water as this predisposes them to regurgitation of rumen content and aspiration pneumonia.

Handling of the immobilised animal

  • Buffalo are generally tolerant of being immobilized; however, respiration rates and tidal volumes tend to become depressed and should be carefully monitored. This is especially true of animals held in bomas.
  • Animals, especially pregnant cows, tend to bloat and their heads should be kept elevated to allow eructation.
  • Large bulls should be rolled frequently to prevent pressure ischaemia and neurological damage of the limbs.
  • Buffalo tend to become hyperthermic and body temperature should be monitored.

Walking” a buffalo

  • Buffalo can be “walked” in a manner similar to that used in rhino. The immobilized animal is blindfolded and a rope is place around the horns. Repeated doses of nalorphine (10 mg per dose) and small dose (1.2mg) diprenorphine are administered intravenously until the animal can just rise to its feet. The rope attached to the horns is used to pull the animal forward and guide it. An electric prodder is required to encourage the animal to stand and walk.

Transportation

• Due to their strong herd instinct buffalo are preferably transported in mass crates. However, bulls may be aggressive towards each other and other individuals, and should be transported in individual crates or well sedated. It is also preferable that cows with very young calves are not transported.
• The tranquillizer of choice for the transportation of buffalo is azaperone. Haloperidol has also been used successfully, especially to tranquillize animals at offloading into holding facilities.
• Crates must be well ventilated as buffalo generate a great deal of body heat, especially following the physical exertion associated with capture.
• Animals will seldom eat or drink during the journey.

Maintenance in holding facilities

Short-term confinement

  • Buffalo translocated to a new area are usually retained in a small enclosure for a few weeks. This allows the animals time to settle and prevents fragmenting of the group.
  • Buffalo originating from a diseased population (foot and mouth disease or theileriosis) are required, by veterinary policy, to be held in quarantine for 2 to 3 weeks at point of destination before release.????
  • An area of 1-3 hectares surrounded by a 2.5m, four-strand fence, reinforced with game capture netting and covered with plastic sheeting is sufficient for a group of 20-40 animals.
  • Two electrified wires can be incorporated along the inside of the boma fence to prevent animals from ‘testing’ the fence.
  • A feeding and watering routine should be established as soon as possible, to prevent animals from becoming stressed by human presence.
  • Animals should be given access to shade.

Long-term confinement

  • Occurs in animals kept for research or breeding programmes.
  • A more permanent structure is required.
  • Bomas should consist of two linked confinement areas with an externally controlled gate so that the buffaloes can be moved out of one area to the other. This will allow daily cleaning and feeding of the enclosures.
  • The perimeter fence is constructed of tannalized (CCA treated) poles, 2m high, and an area of 20m×25m for each compartment is sufficient to house 8 adult buffalo.
  • Animals should be given access to shade and water should be given ad lib.
  • Lucerne and teff are fed in a central hay rack, and a liquid supplemental lick and antelope cubes can be added to the diet.