Game Department, P.O. Box 241, Nairobi, Kenya.


Black rhinoceroses were hunted on foot, from a vehicle, or from a helicopter throughout their range of habitats. Animals weighing 370–1,260 kg could be handled an average of 13 min after darting with a mixture of etorphine (1.9 μg/kg) and acepromazine (19 μg/kg). Cases of respiratory depression at this dosage were reversed soon after immobilisation by the intravenous injection of cyprenorphine (1.0 μg/kg). The captured animal was transported to camp, lashed on its side to a sledge, for periods of up to 515 min without mishap. A rhinoceros that was unloaded 180 min after darting rose to its feet and tried to push its way through the corner of the pen until antidote was administered at 215 min. This action was not observed in animals that received a total dose of 3.4 μg/kg of cyprenorphine before being unloaded 90–413 min after darting.

The addition of hyoscine (at doses as low as 18 μg/kg) to etorphine and acepromazine improved the tractability of rhinoceroses that were only partially immobilised. However, sometimes at this dosage and always at doses above 35 μg/kg, hyoscine prolonged the ‘pushing’ phase for 175–410 min after darting despite the administration of cyprenorphine (4.0 μg/kg).

There were no mortalities due to drug action in the series of 59 healthy rhinoceroses that were dart-immobilised, but there were two deaths due to mishandling and one caused by subsequent mismanagement.