Game capturing in Oudtshoorn

The day of the 21st October 2014 was a sad and exciting day as we said good-bye to four of our young Giraffes. At 09H00 this morning, the helicopter was in the sky and we started the darting and capturing process. After darting and running after the targeted Giraffes, they were loaded and transported successfully to their new home.

Helicopter closing in on the darted giraffe.

Helicopter closing in on the darted giraffe.

The ground team races to the spot where the giraffe came to a stop after being darted by the vet.

The ground team races to the spot where the giraffe came to a stop after being darted by the vet.

It is a stressful process for both the animal and the game capture team and it is important that neither party gets injured. It can be tricky to catch such a big awkward animal in the dense vegetation of the Karoo so it means lots of men on the ground and a well-trained vet with a pilot in the helicopter. Timing is also very important because the health of the animal is at risk and keeping a Giraffe on its feet is just as important to avoid injury to the animal or the people handling it on the ground. Giraffes are tall and it is awkward moving such a big animal which could easily cause the animal to break a leg or injure its neck. An accident in a process like this could mean the loss of an animal’s life and therefore a loss in money for the owner. It is therefore essential for the capturing and transportation to be successful.

The giraffe is blindfolded to minimize stress on the animal.

The giraffe is blindfolded to minimize stress on the animal.

The reason for the removal of these animals is for population control on the reserve as we had over population of Giraffes for the size of the reserve. Over population leads to over grazing and excess damage to the flora and vegetation in the area. Each Giraffe has specific requirements regarding space and food and the reserve is not big enough to sustain the growing Giraffe Population at Buffelsdrift Game lodge.  The main diet of the Giraffe at Buffelsdrift Game lodge is the sweet thorn tree (Acacia Karoo) and having too many Giraffes on the property cause these trees to die and leave little for the rest of the animals on the reserve.

Young giraffe eating from Sweet Thorn Tree(Acacia Karoo)

Young giraffe eating from Sweet Thorn Tree(Acacia Karoo)

Other ways to control population are culling and sterilization, but the translocation is seen by Buffelsdrift Game Lodge as the more humane and accepted method.

Ranger: Melissa Merry