The schedule for today was “Best practice in wild animal restraint and anaesthesia techniques”. The participants got a chance for hands-on practice restraint of free-living Sambar (Rusa unicolor) and Chital (Axis axis) deer. The practice was a part of a long term surveillance program of Sariska tiger reserve.
The briefing and group divisions were set up early morning. Surprisingly, I was positioned to dart a Chital deer I was nervous from the start, watching the first 2 groups performing successful anaesthesia practices. Both of my fellow participants Himanshu Pangti and Fiona Knox demonstrated perfect marksmanship on Sambar deers.
When the time came, I was sitting in the same vehicle with one of our tutors (Parag Nigam). He directed us to a herd of Chital near a waterhole. I aimed cautiously and took my time. The shot was taken and it hit the Chital higher than the target area. It ran far away, but we tracked it and thankfully the anaesthesia was complete. We performed the procedures (Health check and biometrics collection) and after recovery, the Chital returned to its herd safely.
The experience was an exciting and valuable lesson for me. With preparation, proper guidance, and a well-organized team, all the practices went on well with safe recoveries of every animal.