We started the morning not too far from home (Amakhala). Group one was tasked with concocting the dart anaesthetics, monitoring and treatments, and loading of a waterbuck. Once on the ranch the waterbuck, mischievous as he was, had the grand plan of hiding in a nestle of thorn bushes to sleep off his sedation. Thankfully, Grant and Will kept a close eye on him from the helicopter and with some brute force, we were able to treat and load the bull.
Later in the day we were informed he was close to record in horn size!
The afternoon started with lectures rumours that all planned captures were being cancelled due to animal cooperation. Will gave us extra time to bask in the warm winter sun prior to jumping into lectures. As we sat with our coffees and teas Will told us there was a change in plans; a lioness needed her tracking collar removed!
Group two was tasked with similar charges as group one was for the waterbuck, but with a small consideration- the lioness had 4 8-month-old cubs we needed to keep busy while doing the procedure. Once on the game reserve, the amazing staff used a warthog to bait the lioness and her cubs. As they were enjoying the snack the male lion of the pride unexpectedly joined! The family scene was absolutely breath taking. So we immediately interrupted by darting the lioness. Her unhappy growls from the dart could be heard for 100s of meters.
Once she was down, trucks separated her from the dining family so blood work, a quick physical exam and tracking collar removal could be performed.
Of course, we needed a group picture to commemorate the event.
We watched for 45 minutes from the game viewer until her reversal kicked in enough for her to saunter away, shortly after a gorgeous sunset.
Amie Johnson, Iowa State University