14 December 2006

Lion Darting

On Tuesday I got the very unique experience of participating in a lion darting. One of the study lions needed a new radio/GPS collar (because someone, likely his brother) had chewed off the GPS. Ingela and Patrick went on a small plane ride to find the lion (a nomadic male) using the radio collar. Once found, we all drove out to the spot and sure enough, there was Va va voom (his name, don’t ask) and his brother Vishnu. Ernest sized up the lion and determined the right dosage of general anesthetic and muscle relaxant and with Va va voom just sitting there, easily darted him (the pink thing is the dart).

We waited for about 5 minutes, and Va va voom fell asleep. We had to scare off the brother with the cars (he only went a small distance away) and then Ingela put on the new radio/GPS collar, we took some measurements and blood samples (I got to measure the tail) :).

Once we were through Ernest gave the lion an antidote to the muscle relaxant and we climbed back in the cars to wait while Va va voom woke up (we have to stay around until the drugs have worn off to protect the lion from other lions, vultures, etc.). After about 45 minutes from the initial darting Va va voom started to wake up, but was hallucinating (one of the side effects) and kept trying to stand up and run, but only succeeded in turning himself in circles on his haunches.
We chased the brother back towards him, and that helped to calm him down and after another half hour he was much more lucid. Our car took off, while Ingela and Patrick stuck around a little longer to make sure everything was fine. On the way back I got and extra special treat when we encountered a cheetah J Quite the day, quite an experience.


Anonymous Michelle said...

Beautiful Cheetah!

3:05 AM  

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