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To catch a buffalo: field immobilisation of Asian swamp buffalo using etorphine and xylazine




  • School for Environmental Research, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina Campus, Darwin, NT 0909;


Objective  To demonstrate the efficacy of a mixture of etorphine and xylazine to safely immobilise wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in the field.

Methods  Body mass was estimated (to calculate mass-specific dosages) by deriving a predictive relationship between morphometric measurements (body length, height) and mass based on a dataset collected in Vietnam, because the study animals could not be weighed in the field.

Results  Mass-specific dosages varied between 0.02 and 0.03 mg/kg for etorphine and between 0.14 and 0.22 mg/kg for xyalazine; induction times varied between 10 and 33 min, mean recumbency time was 68 min, and the mean time to standing was 10 min (range: 10–17 min).

Conclusions  The mixture of ethorphine and xylazine was effective for immobilisation of this species and appeared to have a relatively large safety margin, based on the mass-specific dosages used. The allometric relationships described here should prove useful for those working with wild swamp buffalo.

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