In September 2015, the HALI team conducted captures of 15 adult buffaloes in Ruaha National Park for disease testing, and placed an additional two collars on buffaloes from two herds. The effort was a part of the Ruaha National Park/HALI collaborative project that is investigating health, population status and ecology of African buffaloes in the park (see past blog posts from Jan 6 2015, March 11 2015, and May 21 2015).
Buffaloes were anesthetized by using a carbon dioxide powered dart rifle to deliver a syringe-like dart containing a powerful anesthetic. Once each buffalo was anesthetized, the team approached the animals, placed a blindfold to calm the animal and provided water if needed to cool the animal, then quickly took blood, hair and fecal samples, and performed a health exam. At the end of the exam, each buffalo was given a rapid acting drug that reverses the anesthesia and allows the animals to wake up in a matter of minutes. All animals recovered and no injuries to humans or buffaloes occurred.
The biological samples collected by the team will be tested at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania for various diseases.
In addition to the capture work, the Ruaha National Park and the HALI team conducted the fourth annual demographic survey of buffalo herds in the park. The survey took 4 days. Demographic data helps the research team understand how herd composition (the ratio of males, females, adults and young) and reproduction varies between years.
Below are a few photographs from the adventures…