Dandelion Breeze was excited and humbled by the offer to join Ajubatus and KNPS at a recent lion darting event.
We headed off to the Skukuza Research Camp with our esteemed host and founder of the Ajubatus Foundation John Dyer.
He gave us the background of the 6yr demographic study of lion populations started in 2011 within the Kruger National Park and is one of the most extensive lion research studies undertaken to date. This project is the result of increasing concern over the occurrence of Bovine Tuberculosis (BTb) in lion populations within the reserve primarily found to being carried by buffalo and passed onto the lion population.
We met up with KNPS Research experts Dr Sam Ferriera, Markus Hofmeyer who were heading up the darting event. They briefed us on the process of how they lay bait for the lions, who when feeding on the bait, are then darted and brought into the research camp where their vitals are taken. This includes body measurements, weight, identifying marks, bronchial swabs and collaring of lions. All this information is collated and recorded as part of the research study to determine the effect of Bovine Tuberculosis on the lion population and breeding cycle.
As the darting can only take place at night, we had the entire Kruger park all to ourselves, just the research team and us there to witness these remarkable creatures from close up and the amazing work being done. The flip side to this experience is that it requires funding to keep the research going so that we can understand the impact thereof and take steps to preserve our heritage for future generations.
We are extremely grateful for what was witnessed as it was informative and something we’ve never experienced before!