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Game Capture and Translocation

Mass Capture

Plastic Bomas

  • Animals are captured in a large funnel constructed of opaque and/or dark plastic sheeting.
  • The animals are herded into the mouth of the funnel by helicopter (and occasionally aided by vehicles, people and/or motorbikes) and once inside the plastic curtain at the opening is closed behind them.
  • The animals regard the plastic sheeting as a solid wall and will rarely attempt to escape through it.
  • The animals are chased towards the neck of the funnel, through a solid-sided crush and up a loading ramp into a suitable game transport vehicle.
  • This technique is more suited to bushveld conditions, where the plastic sheeting and vehicles can be easily camouflaged by vegetation.

Advantages of using plastic bomas

  • Large numbers of animals can be captured in a short time.
  • Immobilising drugs are not required (more cost effective).
  • There is limited physical handling of animals which is less stressful

Disadvantages of using plastic bomas

  • Expensive equipment is required.
  • The technique is only financially viable if large numbers of animals are to be captured.
  • The technique can only be used in certain types of vegetation for example it cannot be used in very dense vegetation.
  • A large team of well-trained personnel is required.
  • Transport vehicles and containers need to be of a certain high quality.

Net capture

  • Net capture uses the same technique as the plastic boma, except that the sides of the boma are constructed from nets and not plastic sheeting.
  • Once in the funnel, animals are chased into drop nets placed at its end and are physically restrained, tranquillised and loaded.
  • The operating team remains quiet and hidden until the animals are trapped within the boma. Thereafter, they work quickly and quietly to remove the animals from the nets
  • Once removed from the nets the animals are tranquillized, restrained until the drugs take effect and then loaded into a game transport vehicle starting with the animals that were tranquillised first.
  • There must be sufficient staff to handle the animals to avoid unnecessary injuries to both animals and personnel.

Advantages of using nets to capture animals

  • Nets can be used in open areas where a plastic boma would not be covered by sufficient vegetation. Nets are easy to erect and remove.
  • Nets can be used to capture species that cannot be captured with a plastic boma, e.g. springbuck.

Disadvantages of using nets to capture animals

  • Net capture is very stressful for certain species.
  • Net capture may result in injuries for example fractured limbs, and animals may suffocate due to strangulation in the net.
  • Net capture involves increased physical handling of animals.
  • It takes longer to load animals captured in nets.
  • Personnel need to be experienced.

Passive Capture Sites

  • This method is very similar to that above, except here, animals are allowed to move passively into a capture site, built around a waterhole or cultivated land.
  • Plastic curtains running on cables or hanging at the top or laid down in trenches are erected around the perimeter of the enclosure.
  • Once enough of the desired species has entered the passive capture site, the plastic curtains are pulled closed or dropped or mechanically lifted.
  • The animals are then chased into nets or chased into the transport units, or released out of camps, captured by hand or selected individually and darted.

Advantages of using Passive Capture Sites

  • This method is less stressful to the animals.
  • It is cheaper than other capture methods, as one does not have to use a helicopter.

Disadvantages of using Passive Capture Sites

  • The capture sites are complicated and time-consuming to erect.
  • It often takes a long time before animals become habituated to the enclosure and can be caught.
  • The time of year, and positioning of the enclosure is critical.