The meeting was promptly opened by Chairman Michael Cochrane with two apologies given. He apologised for the heating problem and hoped the temporary solution would suffice. A last call was made for ideas for the May Forum visit to be submitted to John Taylor and jumble still required for the Church Jumble Sale on March 28th…bags can be left with Mike South at next weeks meeting.

A returning Speaker Mr Tony Brown gave his title for today as “The Count and Capture Game”. Backed up with an impressive and mobile slide show this topic related to his visit to Ants Lodges in the Limpopo Region of South Africa a private  game reserve which involved participants on horseback working in pairs and groups to count the wildlife population on the land and then assist in the capture of specimens for a number of purposes. Initially we were treated to slides of various birds such as weavers, purple standing and lilac breasted rollers with also pictures of house squirrels and dwarf mongoose. The reason for counting the wildlife on these private reserves was that all the game was owned as well as the land and it was necessary to establish herd size, species mix, carry out health checks and also for land management. The difficulty of making such a count was exacerbated by the need to avoid various types of season e.g. hot summer; rutting season; nesting season etc. This left early Spring as the optimum time for this procedure. Most reserves on this continent have specific conservation projects and this need was illustrated by the Sable Antelope population having been at 36,000 in the 1940’s and having declined to 3,500 in the 1990’s!! Other species on the reserve included Water Buffalo, Giraffes, Eland and Wart Hogs. The need to capture specimens was for reasons such as health checks, breeding purposes and possibly transfer or sale to other reserves. The process of capture was no mean feat given the need to tranquillize, calm and transport some invariably weighty and unpredictable specimens.The Speaker had obviously enjoyed and found the trip a fulfilling experience and answered a number of questions from audience members.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Belton on behalf of the thirty-three attendees.


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