Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coolest Field Trip Ever!!!

A couple of weeks ago, we had the privelege of accompanying one of our friends on a game capture.  Our vet and friend, Ian Parsons, is the the person that game reserves in Zambia (both private and public) call when they need to capture or tag wildlife.

In fact, just last month, Ian was contacted to capture and transport 3 Giraffe to the Statehouse for the president of Zambia.  Pretty cool job huh?  Anyways, Ian was asked to capture approximately 100 Lechwe, an African antelope that can weigh in excess of 300 lbs.  We've been bugging him to let us tag along if he ever had a capture where we wouldn't get in the way.  So, he invited me, Luke and our oldest children!  

The method of capture: helicopter and nets.  Ian contracted a local pilot to use his chopper to fly around the game reserve and basically herd the Lechwe towards a netting system.  As the helicopter got close to the nets (which were stretched out in the shape of a U about the size of a football field) it would sound a few short blasts of a siren to scare them into the mouth of the U.  When the lechwe entered, a group of people would pull curtains so that the animals were trapped within the U.

And that's where we came in ; ).  We basically hid in the tall grass and as they ran in, we would stand up, chase them into the nets and either grab them by the hind legs or, if they were male, by the horns.  It was hectic, but it was AWESOME!!!  Don't worry.  The kids didn't participate in the physical capture.  They were safely hidden on the outside of the nets.  They were the photographers.

Let me just say that I thought I was in shape before this day, but I quickly realized how out of shape that I was.  Along with a lot of running, it was extremely exhausting wrestling with these large animals and then loading them into the transport trucks.

And my kids weren't that impressed with me either.  At one point, my son Caleb said, "Come on dad, quit being a wimp and catch one."  Let's just say that at times it was hard to muster up the courage to run full force towards an animal that could seriously hurt a person with a well placed kick.

But all in all, it was a pretty successful day.  We, along with Ian's Zambian staff, were able to capture about 60 Lechwe and 25 Impala (another African antelope).  And for the first time, we were able to get a really up close look at these beautiful animals.

Coming out of the day, I think we all had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming.  We kind of felt like we were on the crew of one of those shows on Animal Planet or National Geographic.  

Needless to say, it was a very, very neat experience!

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