Deacon, F., Daffue, W., Nel, P. 2022. Effective field immobilisation and capture of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis). Animals 12(10), 1290.
One of the highest occurrences of mortalities among giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) takes place during immobilisations, captures and translocations. Common mistakes, human error, unforeseen risks, the awkward anatomy and the sheer size of the animal are leading factors for giraffes’ mortalities during these operations. Many risks can be circumvented but some risks are unpreventable, often due to terrain characteristics (rivers, deep ditches, holes and rocky terrain). From 2011 to 2021, seventy-five giraffes were successfully immobilised and captured to collect biological and physiological data from eight different study areas across South Africa. A 0% mortality and injury rate was achieved and, therefore, the techniques described in this paper are testimony to the advances and improvements of capture techniques and drugs. Biological information and capture experiences were noted for 75 immobilised giraffes, of which, knockdown time data were recorded for 43 individuals. Effective and safe immobilisation requires a competent team, proper planning, skill and knowledge. In this manuscript, we address procedures, techniques, ethical compliance, welfare and safety of the study animals. General experiences and lessons learned are also shared and should benefit future captures and immobilisations by limiting the risks involved. The sharing of experiences and information could influence and improve critical assessments of different capture techniques and can likely contribute to the success rate of immobilisation and translocation success for giraffes in the future.