Translocation of Wild Dogs from Venetia to Mkhuze

Apr 16, 2010

MISSION 9  of 2010

Name of Mission: Translocation of Wild Dogs from Venetia to Mkhuze
Date of Mission: 16th April 2010
Aircraft used: KingAir 90        
Beneficiary: Brendan Whittington-Jones – Venetia Game Reserve, Limpopo, and Dave Robertson – Mkhuze Game Reserve, KZN   
Pilot: Graeme Clarke

Beneficiary’s story of the mission   :   By  MIKE  TOFT
Wildlife Veterinarian & Bateleurs Pilot Member

Objective of Flight
Translocate seven Wild Dogs from Venetia in Limpopo to Mkhuze in KZN.

My day started with an early morning flight on Kalula from Durban international to Lanseria where I was met by Bateleurs pilot Graeme Clarke and the very helpful and friendly ground crew of KingAir Charter.  After a short briefing with Graeme and his co-pilot we took off from Lanseria at 09h00, bound for Venetia in Limpopo.

At Venetia, with the KingAir 90 safely under cover, we set out for the bomas where the wild dogs were being kept, about an hour’s drive away.  To add to the excitement we were mock charged by a young bull elephant along the way. Darting the dogs went very uneventfully and soon all seven dogs were loaded.  Having located our pilots who had taken cover in the game watch vehicle – thanks to another herd of elephant with attitude – we left for the hour’s journey by road back to the airfield.

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Keeping seven dogs asleep on a bouncy dusty noisy trailer was not exactly easy, especially in 38 degree heat. Once at the airfield we loaded the dogs into the KingAir as quickly as possible as the ambient temperature was causing concern – wild dogs are prone to overheating very easily. Take off was welcome and as the aircon kicked in the dogs all relaxed and started to cool down. There were a few nervous glances from the two pilots as the dogs stirred from time to time, but cruising at 21 000 feet above the building cumulo-nimbus clouds was a breeze – for the dogs and myself.  After another one and half hour flight we landed at Mkhuze in KwaZulu-Natal just after 16h00, where we were met  by EKZN officers and staff.  The dogs were transferred to two waiting vehicles and the wonderful plastic liner and blankets were taken out of the KingAir which was beginning to smell a little ripe by now.

The pilots took off for Lanseria and we headed for the ZRR wild dog bomas where the dogs were to be kept for the next 6 – 8 weeks.  On arrival, just after 18h00, and working by torchlight we set up drips for all seven dogs to help them over the effects of the flight and their seven hours of anaesthesia.  By 19h00 the first dogs were beginning to stir and recover and we left them to wake up undisturbed.

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The whole exercise went amazingly well and we are extremely grateful to The Bateleurs, Graeme Clarke and KingAir Charter for their generosity and the use of their aircraft and pilots without whom this exercise would not have been possible.  A great aircraft, company and crew  –  well done guys!

Dr Mike Toft

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