Friday, January 19, 2018


Yesterday was my 6 month Kenyaversery!!! I cannot believe how fast my time here is flying by! For this blog post I thought Id tell you about darting! Darting is a lot of fun (for me as a science geek anyways), but it is NOT a task to be taken lightly.

The situation has to be very specific for a hyena to be safely darted. A hyena should never be darted if:
            It is looking at you
            Other hyenas are watching
            Any animal that can hurt the hyena (lions, elephants, buffalos) are present
            People (tourists or cow herders) are around
            There is water nearby
            There are dense bushes nearby where you could lose the drunk hyena
            The hyena is a mom nursing her cubs

Once the hyena has been hit by the dart, a stopwatch is started and everyone in the car sits still and quiet, as we do not want to draw the hyenas attention to the vehicle. Then once the hyena goes down, we have a list of operations to follow in order.

1.     We cover the hyenas eyes with a cloth. We don’t know what the animal is able to perceive under the influence of telazol, so we want to prevent them from seeing us.
2.     Next we draw blood. This is very tricky to learn. I drew blood for the first time the other day, and even with a really good vein and great teachers (Mary and Benson) it was still tricky.

3.     Once blood has been collected (being able to analyze hormones from plasma is time sensitive, so this is top priority) we apply eye ointment to keep the hyenas eyes from drying out.
4.     Measuring blood glucose. This must be done before the blood begins to coagulate.
5.     Taking dental measurements. PM3 (a lower tooth that us used by the hyena to eat and crunch bone) is a good indicator of age, so we take three measurements of this and average them, to make sure we have the most accurate reading possible. We also record any broken teeth or cavities.
6.     After teeth, we collect a hair sample, followed by paste and bacterial swab samples.
7.     The swabs we take are from the anal sac, anus, prepuse (foreskin surrounding phallus which both male and female hyenas have), buccal (inside the mouth on the gum above the 3rd molar), nares (inside the nostril), and ears.
8.     Body measurements are taken

9.   We weigh the hyena: whoever guesses closest to the actual weight wins! 
10.  If necessary, we attach a collar. This allows us to track the animal in the territory

After all the data has been collected, we find a secluded bush with lots of shade to put the hyena under until it recovers. We carefully check the surrounding area to make sure there are no puddles it could fall in and drown, no rocks it could hit its head on as it wakes up. We pour water over its body to keep it cool, and keep the rag over its eyes (we get that later). That afternoon we generally go to make sure the hyena has either left, or if it is still there, make sure it is ok.

Once we return to camp, we process the blood and make sure the darting sheet is complete, restock and clean the darting equipment, and get ready for the next darting!

1 comment:

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