Tagging Large Land Animals

The team secure a darted rhino with nylon rope, then take its temperature and use a pulsemeter to monitor its heart rate and blood oxygenation

We have previous links to articles on tagging animals, but few land animals this big:

How to tag a rhino? Use tech, tact … and plenty of caution – a photo essay

Fewer than 2,000 rhino remain in Kenya, and the country’s wildlife service needs to keep tabs on them to make sure they thrive. It’s a major undertaking, involving a helicopter, 4x4s and a lot of rangers

Here comes a chopper … a helicopter is used to dart the highly aggressive black rhino

Kenya has the world’s third largest rhinoceros population: a total of 1,890 including 966 black rhinos, 922 southern white and two northern white. But how to keep track of them and ensure the species are thriving? Every two or three years, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) carries out an ear-notching exercise in all rhino sanctuaries in the country to ensure that at least 60% of the animals are uniquely identifiable.

An ear-notch is a pattern unique to an individual rhino within a specific ecosystem that helps rangers and researchers keep accurate records and monitor the rhino’s health.

In March, 40 rhinos within Lewa and Borana conservancies in Kenya were marked in a week-long exercise run by the veterinary and capture team from KWS. It included fitting digital transmitters to 10 black rhinos to track their movements and help mitigate human-wildlife conflicts.

The LoRa (long-range) transmitters identify rhinos both in the field and in the office using EarthRanger software. Data collected from the software is combined with field records to provide a report on wildlife, rangers’ activities, asset deployment and general infrastructure in a protected area.

In addition to ear-notching and fitting digital transmitters, transponders are also embedded into rhino horns to link illegally acquired horns to individual animals for stronger prosecution cases in wildlife poaching trials.

The first step in ear-notching a highly aggressive black rhino involves firing a dart with a tranquilliser gun from a helicopter. A 4×4 is normally used for the more docile white rhino. The well-coordinated exercise takes about 10 minutes for each animal…

Read the whole article here.

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