The Lord Derby Eland is under serious threat of extinction due to excessive poaching and although it used to appear in 9 different countries in Western and Central Africa, it is now limited to Senegal (Western Lord Derby Eland), Cameroon and Central Africa (Eastern Lord Derby Eland). It is the intention to establish an ex situ breeding herd in South Africa to assist in the conservation and future preservation of this iconic antelope through the capture and relocation from Cameroon to South Africa, Limpopo Province of approximately 120 Eastern Lord Derby Eland.
It is anticipated that the project will be executed in the following phases:
- Administrative compliance obtaining permits for both Biodiversity and Agricultural purposes
- Construction of quarantine facilities
- Export of relocation containers and capture equipment to Cameroon
- Pre-quarantine testing
- Pre-export quarantine period
- Pre-export quarantine testing
- Disease free certification
- Translocation as air cargo on a direct flight from Garoua Cameroon to Polokwane Limpopo South Africa
- Transport by road directly to quarantine facility on breeding farm
- Commencement of post-import quarantine
- Post-import quarantine testing
- Disease free certification
- Release into semi captivity to commence with breeding
The capture of approximately 120 Lord Derby Eland will be undertaken in either the Faro national park or the Bouba Ndjija national park by means of a game capture operation utilising both mass capture as well as chemical immobilisation by darting certain individual animals where necessary.
The capture, quarantine and relocation process will all be done under the leadership and management of Dr Anton De Swardt who has been involved in the wildlife and game industry for in excess of 15 years and in particular in the specialist breeding of rare game including Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger niger) and disease free buffalo (Syncerus caffer). The breeding farm which consists of mixed bushveld savannah with a substantial portion of mixed combretum and acacia species is situated adjacent and to the south of the Hoeksberge mountain range, a sub range of the Waterberg mountains Limpopo Province with a summer stream, the Sandspruit passing through the middle of it.
Once the required permits are issued the capture process can commence.
Derbianus Game Breeders will export specially adapted shipping containers to Cameroon in which the Lord Derby Eland will be relocated. An appropriate helicopter properly equipped for game capture purposes will be exported temporarily to attend to both the actual capture as well as transporting all the sero samples for swift dispatch to Lanavet Laboratory as well as to the airport in Garoua for shipment to Onderstepoort South Africa.
The captured Lord Derby Eland will be kept in a specially constructed pre-quarantine facility where they will be adapted to game feed exported from South Africa for 10 days before the first phase of testing will commence. Only animals confirmed sero negative for Foot and Mouth Disease after the first battery of tests will be moved into the pre-export quarantine facility. During this phase, known as the pre-export quarantine period extensive veterinary testing will be undertaken under the direct supervision of 2 specialist wildlife veterinary surgeons as well as 2 independent State veterinary surgeons of Cameroon and South Africa respectively in order to ensure that the eland will be free of relevant biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, helminths, protozoa, ectoparasites and invader plant seeds. The pre-export quarantine will last a minimum of 30 days. The sero testing will be conducted in both Cameroon as well as at Onderstepoort South Africa.
The Lord Derby Eland Veterinary Test Protocol, to be finalised subsequent to the formal Risk Analysis will be executed meticulously.
Subject to the eland being in good condition and certified to be disease free by both South African and Cameroon authorities, they will be loaded into the containers and transported by road to the international airport at Garoua. The eland will then be translocated in the containers as air cargo by an Antonov 225 or an Antonov 124 100 directly to Polokwane Airport, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Specific arrangements will be made with customs and excise and the National Department of Agriculture, Directorate Animal Health to utilise, as an exception Polokwane Airport as a port of entry. This will be done in the interest of ensuring the least possible time for the translocation of the eland. The flight will endure approximately 5 hours 30 minutes.
From Polokwane the eland will be taken to the quarantine facility on the breeding farm of Derbianus Game Breeders at Rhenosterhoekspruit, Bela-Bela, Limpopo, South Africa where they will be kept for the post-import quarantine period. Once cleared after the post-import quarantine period of 8+ weeks by the State Veterinary services, Department of Agriculture and the relevant provincial authorities of the Department of Conservation Limpopo Province the animals will be released into an enclosed farm where specialist breeding of these animals will be conducted.
Two private specialist game capture veterinary surgeons will be involved throughout the entire capture, testing, pre-export and post-import quarantine and will export their own specialist equipment including 3 immobilising dart guns and a variety of veterinary medicine including sedatives and tranquilisers.
A suitable qualified staff member of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries from South Africa as well as an official representative from Cameroon will be present at all times throughout the operation and quarantine procedures in the capacity as observers, at the cost of Derbianus Game Breeders.
It is anticipated that of the approximately 120 animals to be captured approximately 2/3 should be females and 1/3 should be males in order to have a feasible breeding herd. Furthermore the preference will be to capture younger animals, of approximately 2 years of age as they generally adapt easier.
All adult and mature bulls captured will be kept in holding pens individually.
All animals will be very carefully monitored on a daily basis throughout the entire operation both in Cameroon as well as in South Africa. It is anticipated that the eland will calm down substantially and adapt to captivity relatively soon as it is a known fact that of all antelope, eland is the most easy to tame. In South Africa the Ezemvelo Nature Conservation of KwaZulu-Natal Province for instance, routinely adapts all their Rhino’s captured for a period of 4 to 8 weeks prior to their annual auction in specially constructed holding pens. Experience has shown over many years that the animals do tend to adapt within such a period of time and that once boma trained the animals won’t further challenge the physical constraints. This same experience has been the case of the Western Lord Derby eland in the Czech Senegalese project.
No risks of the spreading of any animal or other disease will be entertained whatsoever.
The containers will have a false floor for the capture of all urine and excrement and proper rubber lining installed which will prevent the animals from slipping and falling over. It will also be laden with lucerne which will provide feeding and comfortable bedding en-route and will be equipped with fans to assist with airflow.
The fencing of the quarantine facilities will be appropriately electrified. The quarantine camp will have a 10m sterile boundary where no other animals whatsoever can possibly come into contact.
Ongoing monitoring will take place and supplementary feeding of breeding muesli will be available to the animals at 4 different feeding points on the breeding farm subsequent to release into semi-captivity.
There will be no other large antelope in the Lord Derby Eland breeding camp which will be reserved exclusively for the breeding of the Lord Derby Eland. A capture was undertaken during September 2012 removing all existing eland and most other large antelope from the breeding camp.