Lure lions to a capture site at night by securing a carcass a tree and playing recorded sounds of lions and hyaenas feeding at a kill. A scent trail, created by dragging the carcass also attracts lions to the capture site.
The lions are darted from a vehicle or caravan positioned 20 to 25m away from the carcass.
Immobilised animals must be monitored when ataxic as it could happen that when feeding they could fall asleep in the pelvic area of the carcass and suffocate, they are moved to an area away from the carcass, and the necessary samples and data are collected. All animals are monitored until fully recovered.
Kalagadi National Park
Lions are usually darted from vehicles during the cool of the day.
Trackers are sent to locate the animals prior to capture.
Once an animal is located it is followed until it can be darted from the vehicle.
All required samples and data are collected from the immobilized animals. The lions are monitored until fully recovered.
Handling of the immobilised animal
Eyes are protected (covered) and a bland ophthalmic ointment is applied to protect the corneas.
Animals are maintained in lateral recumbency. The head and neck are extended, and the tongue pulled out to prevent obstruction of the respiratory tract.
A respiratory rate of 10 – 25 breaths per min and which are deep but without excessive movement of the rib cage together with a heart rate of 60 – 120 beats per min. indicate that the animal’s condition is stable under the effects of the drugs.
Monitor the immobilized animal’s body temperature. Lions that become hyperthermic must be doused with water.
Fluid therapy may be necessary if the animal is kept immobilized for an extended period. Ringers Lactate solution is the fluid of choice.
Lions should preferably be transported under general anaesthesia.
Competent veterinary or quilified supervision is required should the animal be anaesthetized for the entire journey.
The animal’s vital signs and level of anaesthesia should be closely monitored throughout the journey, and the animal should be turned regularly (i.e., every 20 – 30 minutes).
Animals can be heavily tranquillized and transported in a crate, but must be anaesthetized for handling and loading into the crate.
Crates must be solidly built and have a thick layer of bedding (straw or wood shavings).
Crate dimensions should cater for the length of the animal, its height when standing and twice its shoulder width.
Cover the crate with tarpaulin and allow for sufficient ventilation
Maintenance in holding facilities
Wild caught lions are extremely dangerous, and are highly unpredictable once they are confined. They must be approached with extreme caution.
Cages are constructed with steel bars and should consist of a night room with cement floors and an exercise enclosure.
Cages should be constructed so that the animal can be temporarily isolated so as to not endanger an operator entering and cleaning the enclosure.
Food and water should be provided in a separate sheltered area.