How might one feel when one of the world’s most dangerous animals is asleep on your lap? Dr. João Almeida, a wildlife veterinarian and founder of Mozambique Wildlife Alliance, finds out!
In the moment, when it is actually happening, João explains, his first priority is as a wildlife vet is the safety of the animal and the rest of the team. It is imperative, of course, that enough of the drug has been administered in order to keep the leopard asleep, but not too much so that it will not wake up again. During this phase of the translocation the animal has also to be kept safe and comfortable so that it is not stressed. A mask is placed over its eyes to ensure that there is no visual stimulus that might wake it up temporarily. Animals are most usually placed in crates or cages when being transported, but as this cat was being flown in a helicopter where there is no space for a crate, it had to lie on the vet’s lap.
Although João looks calm, his mind is totally focused on trying to predict the unpredictable. What if the leopard wakes up? What if the leopard doesn’t wake up? How can he keep everyone safe?
These and other questions are continually running through the minds of those involved in translocations. Despite all the detailed planning, logistics and experts, translocations cannot be an exact science, because they involve wild animals. Translocations are a marriage of science and art with a little bit of nature’s magic thrown in.
Incredible footage of this leopard translocation will be released in early January, so stay tuned in 2022, to see the close-up action of the world’s most dangerous animal being translocated. 2022 will also see more cheetah translocated into Maputo Special Reserve and many more wild animals finding new homes.
Peace Parks would like to make a special thanks to all those who have been involved in translocations this year. This includes the wildlife veterinarians, the pilots, the ground teams, everyone at HQ, the institutions, governments, officials, partners, corporations and of course, the generous donors, without whom none of what you have seen would be possible.