GAME CAPTURE – TSESSEBE

Demographic Capture dosages Tranquillisation dosages
Adult Bulls 3-4 mg of M9950 mg of Azaperone

18-20 mg of Haloperidol+ 100 mg of Trilafon

Adult cows 3 mg of M9950 mg of Azaperone

15 mg of Haloperidol+80 mg of Trilafon

 

Characteristics

Body weight: Bulls 140 kg and cows 126 kg.

Social behaviour: Breeding herds consist of 5–9 animals with an adult bull. Bachelor herds occur in the same areas as the breeding herds.

Habitat:   Open savannah woodland.

Mating season:  January–April

Calving season:  October–November.

General Remarks Relating to Capture

Tsessebe are free-ranging animals relying on sight and speed in open country to outrun predators. They are the fastest runners of the plains game species, similar in many respects to black wildebeest, in that they dislike any form of confinement and will attack each other when under stress.

This is the main problem to be addressed to provide for their successful capture.Family groups occupy specific but generally small territories close to one another. When groups are removed, the vacated territory is not quickly filled. On large game farms, bulls form bull herds numbering up to thirty individuals.

They occupy specific areas, which the young bulls join when they are forced from the herd. On small game farms these bull herds do not exist. The young bulls have nowhere to go and are often either chased off the farm or killed.

Often amongst these bull herds are a few cows, possibly non-breeding queens, resulting in confusion as to whether or not the group is a breeding herd. If the group is larger than 12 individuals without obvious young of the year, it is probably a herd of bulls that is being observed. Moreover, on small game farms tsessebe occasionally cross with blesbok to produce a presumably mute “tsessebok” showing characteristics of both.Boma siting can be a problem, as tsessebe dislike entering heavily wooded areas.They prefer more open, broken country with dispersed thickets they can see through.

The animals are cautious, easily spotting the top cable of a boma set across an opening. It must therefore be hidden in some scrub or trees. The most effective boma site often appears the worst when built hidden in scant vegetation.Tsessebe generally do not respond to supplementary food, probably as there is no opportunity to train them in the boma beforehand owing to their aggressive nature towards one another. Consequently, they are not attracted for capture using drop bomas.

The capture method of choice for tsessebe is the net boma method, as the animals are individually caught, blindfolded, tranquillised and held for ten minutes before loading. Net bomas are relatively quick to set up, within 1,5 hours. Ideally, the target herd is sited, the boma set up and the animals captured all within the space of three hours.

Plastic bomas can also be used for capture, as long as the animals are quickly grabbed individually in the crush, where they are blindfolded and tranquillised before loading.It is imperative that before tsessebe are confined, they must be heavily tranquillised. This necessitates restraining each one individually until the tranquilliser takes effect.

Tsessebe should not be placed together in a release boma, where they will horn each other. Rather, they can either be placed in individual pens or split in small groups in small pens under Trilafon. Preferably though, they should be free-released.The animals are individually carried and loaded in compartments separating bulls from cows from calves, and set in their natural sternal lying position.

The blindfolds are gently removed and the attendants move slowly out, leaving the animals in position. Should the animals still be restless, staff re-enter the crates and stabilize the situation. The animals generally remain in this position until they reach their destination. Often, they have to be removed physically and placed outside, facing away from the truck, and then encouraged to run off together.

With regard to darting, tsessebe often display “displacement behavior after darting. After a short run they stop and appear to be eating before dropping down, apparently continuing to nibble at grass in a sternal position.