GAME CAPTURE – ZEBRA

Demographic Capture dosages Tranquillisation dosages
Adult Bulls

6-7 mg of M99, 10 mg of Detomidine

30 – 40 mg of Haloperidol
Adult cows

6 mg of M99, 10 mg of Detomidine

30 – 40 mg of Haloperidol

 

Characteristics

Body weight: 290–340 kg.

Social behaviour: Zebra form small family herds consisting of an adult stallion, mares and their offspring, and usually average 4–6 animals. Stallions without breeding units join to form bachelor herds.

Habitat:  Open woodland and grassland savannah.

Mating season:  Throughout the year. A single foal is born during the rainy season after a gestation period of 360–390 days.

Foaling season: Throughout the year, peaking in October–March.

General Remarks Relating to Capture

Zebra have very strong family ties and will not tolerate intrusions from other individuals. Nevertheless, they are gregarious and will mix with other zebra and other species when not harassed. Stallions and mares look alike and can be difficult to differentiate. The female has a broader bare (black) band at the rear below the vaginal opening, and the males tend to have a thicker neck. What usually becomes apparent is that the male often stands aloof and runs on one side or at the back of the herd. Zebra often appear to be in good condition at a quick glance when, in fact, they are not.Although zebra are inclined to keep to open ground in small groups, they are difficult to spot from the air in poor light on cloudy days.

They are particularly conscious of wind direction, more so than most other species. They are cautious when crossing roads recently used, examining scent left behind. They cross through well-maintained fences only at specific points, which need to be known.Zebra drive well by helicopter, tending to keep to the more open woodland scrub rather than dense thickets if the wind is to advantage. They cross through fences reasonably easily, provided that they do so naturally. The animals test any scent left on any road they may encounter – often coming to a full stop, then running along the scent before finally bolting across.

Care must therefore be exercised not to overfly them. It is for this reason that the bottom cable at the main gate is not left in place but run separately, as they are intelligent animals that will quickly notice anything different.Where wind is from the wrong direction, out of the boma even slightly, zebra will pick it up and respond directly downwind, even running down the main gate line.

Conditions of no wind are also a problem, as the animals will pick up even faint scent wafting around. Should they be forced into the boma against the wind, problems will be experienced in driving them up to the crush, as they will detect people in front and consistently break back. This will increase their heat and stress levels significantly.Care must be taken during the drive not to mix in other individual males or even another herd that the herded zebra attract on the way to the boma. Once mixed, constant friction will be observed, with the groups constantly splitting and joining as the drive progresses. If they are not separated and are all driven into the boma, there will be much fighting in the crush and truck.

Zebra can sustain several injuries at this point, but as long as no blows are received directly in front of the head above the eyes, where the skin is paper thin, they generally recover. Foals at foot, however, may be lost. Groups that have not been mixed are far quieter once loaded.Despite popular opinion, zebra are susceptible to capture myopathy.

If they run up and down the boma a few times, usually due to wind change, they will quickly succumb. Also note that zebra kick and bite each other and will not hesitate to attack in close confinement.The skin over the buttocks is thin and tight.

Often darts in this area, particularly Palmer® darts, result in over-penetration, with the whole dart disappearing into the muscle. The best place to dart is the neck and shoulder area.Darting with Etorphine is generally stormy, as zebra are prone to waking up prematurely and leaping out of the vehicle when carrying the animal in its anaesthetised state. A powerful sedative such as Detomidine is required to smooth out the anaesthesia.Zebra show little respect for any drug, particularly Fentanyl and Carfentanil, which have very little effect on them.

They are difficult to overdose, even with Etorphine, and require twice the dose of 30–40 mg of Haloperidol to achieve some degree of tranquillisation. They should be reversed intramuscularly and not intravenously, as they come round too quickly and often leap up while their sight is still impaired, and may injure themselves.

In respect to crates, zebra dislike closed-in units, preferring cattle-type units that are well ventilated. The crate must be strong, as they will test it and kick it to pieces if it is not. Personally, the author is not in favour of tranquillising zebra and has found that, provided they have not been mixed and are in preferred crates, they settle down well during transport.

Tranquillised animals will lie down and can be kicked by other animals, causing injuries.