Game capture, the art of capturing game, simple…….no (unless you are one of those people that can solve a rubics cube with a piece of string, a half eaten apple and a squirrel)
So the last few days here have seen us embark on this challenge.
Now we were looking for a few of our buffalo that decided to take an extended holiday on the neighbouring farm, which conveniently also had buffalo. This left us trying to find a needle in a pile of needles. So after negotiations with the respective animals failed (they were asking for a 6 percent wage increase), we called in the experts.
So what did we get, well we got two vets (because everyone loves a second opinion), a chopper pilot, two Zimbabweans (not illegal immigrants) and one bloke to run the whole operation with his team of experienced game capturers.
Now to catch a buffalo can be a challenge because you are taking animals with a very short temper and then harassing them (it’s much like trying to get that one angry drunk bloke out of the bar by throwing a beer on him, you generally rule out the fairy tale happy ending).
So how these guys went about this was to erect a big funnel in the bush using canvas sheets strung up between trees and various poles in an effort to channel the buffalo through the funnel and back to our side of the fence. Once this was done, the pilot then tried to herd them in with a chopper, great in theory, not so much in practise (just imagine you are in charge of a group of ladies and it’s your job to get them through a shopping mall when there is a sale on in every shoe shop).
To add to this “simple” job, the wind wasn’t in our favour on the first day, so the buffalos smelt us and then refused to cooperate, even when we planted trees in an effort to hide the canvas walls. The chap in charge even tried using his vehicle to push the few we did manage to get through the funnel, which worked well, if you consider fixing a porcelain vase with a hammer a good idea, as one bull buffalo didn’t take kindly to this particular customs officer and felt he needed to change the shape of the vehicle a bit.
So round one didn’t go to well, but thankfully round two went to us. The next day the wind was perfect and thanks to some skilled flying, the chopper pilot managed to get a nice sized group of buffalo into the funnel. But then the wheels sort of fell off, almost literally as one bull buffalo put a horn into the wheel of the vehicle we were using and gave us a flat tire (though it was only flat at the bottom to be honest). After this and a few “polite” and “kind” words of encouragement the buffalo thankfully cooperated nicely and passed through the funnel and back onto our side of the fence, ending an interesting two days.
So what this ranger has learnt from this, is next time this needs to be done, I’m going in to find myself some string, eat half an apple, talk with a squirrel and try solve a rubics cube….it seems easier.
by Ranger Nick