Communication is everything!

When developing gamete rescue techniques for species vulnerable to extinction you rely on harvesting samples from prime breeding age animals that are legally hunted by people who like doing that type of thing.  The conundrum is that if the species is vulnerable to extinction then it really shouldn’t be hunted.  So my strategy is to develop some general techniques that work in a wide range of more common herbivore species in the hopes that the techniques would work well in an endangered animal that was recently poached. However, as is often the case, you have a plan and then you have reality and the two are not always the same.  The fact is there is not much hunting in the part of the reserve I’m in.  Pongola Game Reserve is a private reserve owned by a number of neighbouring land owners that agreed to drop their boundary fences and cooperatively manage the game reserve.  The part I’m in is owned by a veterinarian and it has been in his family for many decades (see the BBC documentary ‘The Mission’ for his truly inspirational effort to bring elephants to the reserve).  There is hunting on the neighbouring properties but communication with them is not always the best.  So, for example, when I had one of our rangers talk to the neighbours’ rangers about testes collection they misunderstood and instead sent me the skin of the ball sac (scrotum) without the testes.  Sigh….. So, note to self, if we pursue this line of research here in the future we need to improve communication with the neighbours.Pongola map

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