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Capture of farmed Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus): comparison of physiological parameters after manual capture and after capture with electrical stunning
  1. S. Pfitzer, Dr med vet, MSc1,4,
  2. A. Ganswindt, PhD2,3,
  3. G. T. Fosgate, DVM, PhD, DACVPM4,
  4. P. J. Botha, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD5,6 and
  5. J. G. Myburgh, BVSC, BVSC (Hons), M med vet (bovine)1
  1. 1Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort 0110, South Africa
  2. 2Faculty of Veterinary Science, Endocrine Research Laboratory, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort 0110, South Africa
  3. 3Department of Zoology and Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
  4. 4Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort 0110, South Africa
  5. 5Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, Scientific Services, Private Bag X606, Groblersdal 0470, South Africa
  6. 6Department of Biodiversity, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga 0727, South Africa
  1. E-mail for correspondence: vet{at}chuiwildlife.co.za

Abstract

The electric stunner (e-stunner) is commonly used to handle Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) on commercial farms in South Africa, but while it seems to improve handling and safety for the keepers, no information regarding physiological reactions to e-stunning is currently available. The aim of this study was therefore to compare various physiological parameters in farmed C niloticus captured either manually (noosing) or by using an e-stunner. A total of 45 crocodiles were captured at a South African farm by either e-stunning or noosing, and blood samples were taken immediately as well as four hours after capture. Parameters monitored were serum corticosterone, lactate, glucose, as well as alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, aspartate aminotransferase and creatine kinase. Lactate concentrations were significantly higher in noosed compared with e-stunned animals (P<0.001). No other blood parameter differed significantly between the two methods of capture. In addition, recorded capture time confirmed that noosing takes significantly longer time compared with e-stunning (P<0.001), overall indicating that e-stunning seems to be the better option for restraint of especially large numbers of crocodiles in a commercial setup because it is quicker, safer and did not cause a significant increase in any of the parameters measured.

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