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Darting Zero

By 6 years ago
Categories Limpopo and KZN

The morning was becoming hot as I sat in the truck and waited, I was keeping an eye on the big male lion (Panthera leo), Zero, making sure we knew his location. The day had finally arrived, the day we were to remove Zero’s collar and replace it with an implant. Beth was just down the other road, both of us impatiently waiting for Kobus, the Reserve Manager, and the vet to show up.

It wasn’t the best of situations as Zero was with the sub-adult males, Maximus and Morpheus, and we were hoping he would have been on his own but we will make it work. Finally, Kobus and the Vet call in and they are just down the road. Luckily Maximus and Morpheus have also moved away from Zero so the darting could take place.

I leave Zero and make my way out so that the vet can come into dart. Upon my leaving the area Zero also decides it’s time to move off so by the time the vet gets to where he was he’s gone. Fortunately Beth, master telemetrist, is in the truck with the vet. She hops in the back and they do the quickest and most accurate telemetry Beth has ever done. Soon Zero is found again and quickly darted. As he lies down the three of them jump out of the truck start washing him to keep him cool and prepare him for transport to the Boma where the operation will take place. Unbeknownst to them the sub-adults had not gone far and hearing the commotion come charging Beth, Kobus and the vet. Time seems to stop as these male lions start running at them, Kobus and the vet pick up rocks to throw and manage to shout the lions off. Quick as lightening Kobus calls us on the radio for help and Simon, a guide who has also come to help, and I speed off to the scene to create a barrier between Zero and the sub-adults while the others load Zero onto the truck for transport.

We arrive in the boma where a table has been set up. Zero is unloaded onto the table and we arrange him so he is on his back but supported so he won’t roll over. The nurses keep an eye on his vitals, cover his head to keep him cool and make sure he is doing OK. The operation itself went took only about 45 minuets. Myself and Beth holding his paws so they don’t get in the way. Soon he is all stitched up. We move him into the shade with a dead impala near by for him to eat when he wakes up. So far the operation was a success but we won’t really know how well the implant works until we can test it in the field.