Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Zeby update

Zeby update

Zeby has been with us since December 24 2010. His mother was killed by lions and he was severely dehydrated when we went to get him. He now eats 2 two liter bottles of Foals milk, 5 times a day, and is starting to eat solid foods. In the wild, they suckle up to 8 months old. Since he is a stallion and will be killed by alpha male of herd if we attempt to reintroduce him to the wild, we have decided that he is going to a private game reserve in Gaborone, where he will be an ambassador. We are awaiting permits to ship him down. He is quite a character and plays with the dogs. Laura spends a lot of time with him.

This update was written by Laura
Most of you do not know this but Angel (the black German Shepherd with Zeby) is 8 years old and grew up on my farm in Florida (before we moved with Clay to Botswana) and she was the “Mother” of all the animals. German Shepherds have a natural instinct to herd animals. Angel was such an asset on the farm because she took care of Pygmy Goats, Horses, Cows, Swans, Emus, Chickens, Turkeys and even Cats. She would make sure they all were clean and safe. Angel has never hurt another animal. She also is a great Mother to her own puppies and adopted ones. 

So, it is no surprise that she takes care of Zeby. In the pictures, Angel is cleaning and making sure Zeby is OK. In a couple of the pictures Angel looks aggressive with Zeby, but she just gets excited when cleaning him. One can see from the next picture that she is only taking care of him. Zeby and Angel have a bond and good relationship. If Zeby wanted, he could really hurt or kill Angel. So, I don’t worry about Zeby when Angel and he are together.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cape Painted Wild dog severely injured and in hospital

Cape Painted Wild dog severely injured and in hospital

At 6 am I was woken up by parks and wildlife. A cape spotted Wild dog was hit by a car on the tar road to Katima. Dog was in severe shock and totally recumbent. I immediately placed an IV drip and treated for shock. I applied a dog muzzle to prevent it from biting me as it was very scared. It is a young dog approximately 9 months old male. It was exhibiting classic symptoms of upper spinal shock called Schiff Sherrington. The front legs are rigidly held out while the hind legs are totally paralyzed. Dog recovered from shock and I administered pain killers, antibiotics and worm medication. There were various scrape wounds all over body due to road rash. 

After 2 hours the dog was stable enough to x-ray. At this stage he had already regained some use of his front legs and had retracted a hind leg so prognosis is improved. Amazingly on X-ray he had a previous spinal injury mid thoracic where his vertebrae had been broken and it had healed. I imagine a lion must have bitten him there to have caused such trauma. A huge bone spur had developed were it healed. I hope that this previous injury has caused the spinal shock and was aggravated by car hit. I did not see any evidence of recent fractures to his spine He does have a broken rib but it is stable.

 He has such powerful jaws that he broke the dog muzzle by just opening his mouth. He allowed me to pet him with comforting words and relaxed. When I gave him some water by syringe in his mouth he clamped down on syringe tip. It was like a vice grip. I do not want to have my fingers caught in that Jaw.

Hopefully he will recover overnight as I gave him some Valium to sleep comfortably. Prayer will be said for his recovery. I have no clue how I am going to medicate him if he does recuperate but he has been very gentle and non aggressive. It’s still scary since he is a wild animal.

Please say prayers for him. I will keep updated on his condition.
We cannot afford to lose this dog

Monday, February 7, 2011

Relocating lions at Panda

Relocating lions at Panda

Stalking Lions at Pandamatenga

I promised an update and pictures but unfortunately all the action was at night and I was unsuccessful in my attempts. There has been a pride of Lions attacking cattle in the farm community of Pandamatenga. Unfortunately comms were not established in time and a farmer shot and killed an adult lioness. The next day I was on scene. Walking thru the bush of the farm we found many fresh lion tracks to confirm they were in the area. We also found 3 snares that had been set up along game paths. This really gets my blood boiling. What a horrible death for the poor misfortunate. A cow of the farmer had died acutely, I believe of some plant toxin, so we were able to drag the carcass behind my vehicle to put out fresh scent to attract the misfits.

During this process I got stuck in the mud 5 times, broke my brand new winch which I purchased to replace the last one that burned out pulling over a darted elephant. Also a cut thru the sidewall. So far the bill for this expedition is P8000.00 for winch and P2200.00 for new tire P600.00 of fuel. At dark after a dinner of sandwiches and drinks I provided for the wardens I had with me P340.00, we were off to set ourselves up. It had just become dark and as we drove down the road out, the culprits ran in front of us. They were already in the cattle enclosure at that time. 5 wardens squeezed into the back of the car, one in front and myself. Between the wires for spotlight with red filter, predator calls and dart gun I could hardly move.

The speaker from the predator call wailed out various different frequencies including a Buffalo calf in distress, Hyenas fighting over a kill and lions roaring to announce their territory. Our field of view was very limited as the bush was very thick and we could only see 30 meters. I hear a noise in front and on goes the red spotlight. A fully grown lioness was thru the bush 20 meters away and coming in. I at this time mixed up the tranquilizing drug ( P 780.00) into a dart ( P 250.00) in preparation to dart her, Once the solution has been mixed its only effective for 3 days. Gun out the window awaiting her to come to the bait. Another set of eyes running towards up at full bore. A large hyena runs in attracted by calls and there is a sudden and violent but short fight. These are legendary enemies. There goes that opportunity.

30 minutes later another set of eyes. On with the spotlight. Here come the 2 young lions running towards us. As soon as light goes on they disappear. They have been shot at and chased and every night they spotlight them and shoot up flares in an attempt to scare them in. Cages have been set with bait but these lions are smarter than most as they have learned the ways of man.

I instructed the farmer to hang the bait in a tree and call me when the lions hit it. We head home in early hours of morning. One and half hour drive. Many elephants on the road feeding and crossing so we need to proceed cautiously. It’s amazing how such a large creature is not visible, especially if he’s walking down the road with his back to you.

The next day I receive a call the lions are on bait. Once more I head out and this time I need to change my tactics. Unfortunately I had borrowed out my night vision scope to an ant poaching unit and have not received it back yet. Sitting alone 20 meters from the bait with only a branch to cover me and having spread carcass contents on my clothes to ask my scent I felt very vulnerable. The plan was to hear the lions feed on the bait then dart them without and benefit of light. Fortunately there was a sliver of moonlight so I could make outlines. I did not expect the mosquito population and had not bought spray as the lions would have smelled me. It was extremely uncomfortable a miserable for the 3 hours I sat there. Wardens were waiting at camp ready to load the lions in to cages we had brought with and relocate them. They never showed up. To this date they have not come back. I guess they knew there was a new sheriff in town. I wish them well and hope they change their appetite for cattle.

Not such a dramatic story but it gives one idea of what I deal with and the expenses involved, I don’t even want to add those up. Now I am busy organizing the vaccination campaign. Thanks to donations I will be able to pay for these and execute the exercise in 4 days. Lots of work to do there but is essential for prevention of virus spread. I’m sure I will be able to post pictures of wild dogs attempting to savage my hand. 
My Life…..