Whilst on a hyena rescue mission with one of our long term partners, Joel Alves from Wildscapes Veterinary Services, we witnessed first hand how difficult it is to not only locate, but to get close enough to an injured or skittish animal in order to dart it. Darting with a tranquilliser is the only way to safely treat an injured wild animal or collar it for research purposes. Most of the time, where it concerns predators like hyena or lion, we try to locate & dart the animals at nightfall to minimise our impact as much as possible. Where the use of a spotlight is needed to accurately identify and target the animal, the light often chases the animal out of reach.
With the help of a generous donor, we were able to sponsor a Thermal Night Vision Scope to the value of R36,000. Joel has already used the scope on a conservation mission in Senegal, where they collared some of the last, critically endangered West African lions. The collaring operation forms part of research conducted by Panthera to protect this unique lion population. Whilst on one of the night operations, the team actually heard poachers racing by in a 4x4 vehicle, so the scope provided additional safety for the team members involved!