Anthrax havoc in Kruger

2012-08-29 00:00

ROAN antelope face extinction as a species after an anthrax outbreak in the Kruger Game Park at the weekend killed 30 of about 100 roan antelope in a breeding herd fenced in near the Mopani rest camp.

William Mabasa, spokesperson for the game park, said the breeding programme — known as the Capricon endangered species project — was started to prevent the rare roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) from becoming extinct.

The breeding camp in the Mooiplaas area in the north of the park was set up in 2002 and 19 roan antelope were moved to the Capricon project from a similar breeding programme, the N’washitshumbe project, near Punda Maria, which breeds with between 60 and 70 roan antelope.

Mabasa said anthrax was endemic to the Kruger Park and broke out from time to time. Outside the breeding herds there are only about 30 roan antelope roaming in the Kruger’s three million hectares.

Game wardens who inspected the Capricon breeding project during the weekend discovered the carcasses. After tissue samples were taken, the carcasses were burned to prevent the bacterium that causes the disease from spreading.

Anthrax is a deadly bacterial disease and is highly contagious for both humans and animals.

Mabasa said visitors to the game park should not touch any dead animals. “Report such carcasses without delay at the nearest rest camp or game warden,” he said.

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