Eland cows in trouble

In 2000 the South African Bureau of Standards published the SANS-0331-2000 Code of Practice for the translocation of certain species of wild herbivores, but unfortunately not all game capture and relocation companies adhere to this voluntary code.

Earlier this week we received a call from a nearby farmer wanting to know if we would be interested in accepting some eland as a donation to our trust.  The animals had been sold to him by a game capture unit and when the animals were off-loaded the pipes placed on their horns after capture to prevent injuries during transportation, had not been removed before the animals were off-loaded on his property.

Within the first two days after receiving the animals four of them had died of internal injuries sustained during the capture operation.  A week later another animal had died and only two cows remained.  One of them had broken a horn during the transportation to his farm and the other cow gave birth to a calf about a month later.  Sadly, all three animals were in bad physical condition and it was evident that they were not going to survive unless someone intervened.  The pipes were still on their horns and with the raining season approaching the pipes would fill up with water when it rained and could cause rotting of the elands’ horns.

Our reserve is unfortunately not particularly suited to eland and although we agreed to help the animals and accept them as a donation, a decision was made to eventually relocate them to a suitable habitat once their physical condition improved.

Initially we build a hide and then started feeding the eland to make sure that we could dart them in an open area from the ground.  At the time, we did not have sufficient funding to hire a helicopter.  After feeding the animals for about two weeks we were confident that they have become accustomed to our presence and that it would be possible for the vet to dart them from the makeshift hide providing the wind direction worked in our favor.

Fortunately, all went according to plan and both the females and calf were successfully darted.  The pipes were removed quickly and all the animals were treated for a heavy tick load.  All three animals were loaded for transportation to SanWild and woke up within seconds of an antidote being administered.  Just over an hour after being darted they were back in the wild where we trust they will make a full recovery from being captured, darted and relocated.

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