On thursday this last week, two buffalo bulls, (known in Africa as ‘Dagga Boys’) decided to take up residence in Victoria Falls town in CHOGM Park next to Cresta Sprayview Hotel. They were very content with the copious amounts of green grass and no amount of chasing would move them out of their new found eden.
“This is the worst time of the year for our wildlife, the bush is at its driest, it’s extremely hot, there’s not much vegetation to eat and the dangerous animals are irritable and short tempered” says Adrian Reed. “Whilst wildlife frequent the town during this time of year during the night, most move back into the Zambezi National Park by first light. This area where the buffalo are is heavily populated with pedestrians and it was a matter of time before someone was either hurt or killed by them.”
Requested by Zimparks to assist in the matter, Roger Parry from Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust and Adrian Reed met with the local Area Manager at 0.900hrs in the morning and suggested to capture and relocate the buffalo. The Area Manager stressed the importance of an immediate action taking place and a plan was put together swiftly.
It would require the help of the community and together a team set about organising the operation. Alison Baker from Zambezi Horse Safaris was called in with her horses, given that the team have learnt over the years that you can get closer to the wildlife if you are on horseback, or walking alongside the horse with the horse between you and the wild animal. A truck capable of lifting and carrying two Buffalo was required and fortunately Mr. Tinashe Manyau of Auto Towing stepped forward to assist and kindly provided a truck and crane at no cost for the operation.
By 12.00 hours the team were ready to go and had all moved into position including members from Zimparks and ZRP. People in town saw something was going on and they wanted to know what and so the growing crowd had to be controlled at least until the Buffalo were drugged and down. Doctor Chris Foggin and Roger Parry from the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust would do the darting whilst Adrian Reed and Garth Adams would be the back-up in the event of a buffalo charging.
Using the horses as cover the team approached to within 15 meters of the Buffalo and both darts went in on target within seconds of each other. Several minutes later both animals were drugged and were being dragged on a conveyor belt sled pulled behind a land cruiser towards the truck parked on the main road. They were lifted onto the truck with the crane and lightly strapped down.
The buffalo bulls were moved 25 kilometers down the Kazungula road into the middle of the Zambezi National Park. They were slowly lowered to the ground using the crane, the reversal drug was administered, they awoke (in a very bewildered fashion) and eventually moved off into the thick bush!
Thanks go to the following people and organizations for giving up their time to ensure a successful relocation operation:
Roger Parry and Dr. Chris Foggin from Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust.
Marvelous Mbikiyana – Zimparks Senior Area Manager and his compliment of rangers.
Members of the ZRP.
PH’s Adrian Reed, Tim Ellement, Garth Adams and Clint Robinson for their “back up”
Charles Brightman and the VFAPU scouts.
Tinashe Manyau for the use of his truck and crane.
Alison Baker – Zambezi Horse Trails.
Nick (NJ) La Grange and Joshua Mostert and their team from African Wildlife Management and Conservation. These guys operate a very successful game capture operation and just happened to be in the area at the time.
“Victoria Falls is one of those communities that drop what they are doing, come together, and get the job done when it’s needed. It’s also a great example of the private sector and the various Government departments pulling together for the benefit of all,” says Adrian Reed