|A Red Duiker named Jinx|
Since then I have been asked fairly frequently for advice on how to hand raise other animals. There is not much out there in knowledge of hand-rearing wildlife. Hence this post on Hand raising an antelope. Instead of spending ages on a phone explaining the ins and outs of caring for your antelope - I can now just say " read my blog"!
BEFORE I START:
* Please contact your State Vet, or Conservation office to let them know that you are caring for a wild animal.
* A orphaned antelope is totally reliant on its mother, and the natural mother is always best for it, Fostering with another mother is second best, and hand rearing as a last resort.
* It is extremely time consuming - like having a new born baby in the home. Don't even consider it if you can't commit. Rather locate your local animal rescue center:
Animal and Bird Rescue Centres within SA:
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary
Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Freeme Wildlife Rehabilitaion Center
|Jinx Picked up by a Sympathetic tourist|
I had tried raising a red duiker before and was unsuccessful, You never know what they arrive with, and sometimes the mother has abandoned them because they are weak, and are holding her or the herd back. So I named the little red duiker that arrived with me "Jinx". He was less than 6 weeks when he arrived and his story is a sad one, in that his mother was poached for bush meat and Jinx was being sold on the side of the road for the "sympathetic tourist trade".
As a word of warning - please do not buy wildlife from the side of the road, as you are just promoting this kind of business. Rather report it to your local State vet, Conservation office, or rehabilitation center. Jinx, was not paid for, but rather confiscated by one of the passing rangers in the area. He was literally only a few weeks old when he came to me.
I raised him successfully, then the hard part came in letting go. I would let him out his pen a few hours a day. We live on a game farm, so it was natural for him to slowly venture further and further. He would stay out longer and longer. He found himself a girlfriend when he was about 8 months old. And of course he wanted to show his girlfriend the best spot to get apples and carrots (his favorite) but the girlfriend was having none of his in-laws (us), And Jinx had to choose: us or the girlfriend. Guess who won? And that was the last we saw of Jinx. It was extremely gratifying to have been able to release him successfully from our care.
DON'T GET TOO ATTACHED:
* This is the difficult part, because (A) they are just too cute and adorable, (B) hey... this could be Bambi. But the harsh reality is that we are not the best antelope mothers.
* Wild animals are very prone to Stress, and can often just die within a few days from that. They are also prone to infections and digestive problems. If the little antelope makes it past the first week, you can count yourself very privileged.
* Try not to tame, or imprint yourself on the animal, as this can cause problems later. Males can also be aggressive, so you need to be strict from the outset not to practice their fighting skills on you. You are the "mother" not their play mate. I had the most awesome dog at the time called "Tamboti" she became Jinx's play mate and protector.
|Tamboti (the gorgeous dog) and the Jinx (the red duiker)|
* When you first get in a wild antelope (or any wild animal), they are extremely stressed. Stress is a killer in animals and birds. Keep it away from as many prying eyes as possible. Enclose it in a dark warm comfortable place for about an hour, A large cardboard box with an old blanket and breathing holes works well, put a small bowl of water in with the animal. Now leave it alone. If the animal is injured, you will need to call out a vet.
* If the animal is a new born and the umbilical cord is still wet, you need to clean with a tincture of iodine or colloidal silver or a disinfectant cream- very important as infection can set in through this area.
* You need an area Somewhere, Quiet, dry, warm, and safe. A spot to hide (box, crate, bales of hay), with no windows it can run into.
* A fenced area where it can venture out to get its daily dose of Vitamin D (as in Sunshine). A garage, store-room, shed, or stables works well
* You will need to install an infra-red light for warmth. I found that this was easiest to cut a whole in the top of the box, and suspend the light over the box. Not too close, otherwise it gets really hot in there.
|Tamboti and Jinx - best play mates|
What you will need:
* A Baby bottle
* A baby teat for the bottle. Or a calf teat for larger antelopes (usually available from the farmers co-op or your local vet.
* You will need to weigh your antelope. The easiest is to weigh yourself, then pick up the animal, and subtract the two weights
* See the milk formulas below
* Milk formula must be given at body temperature (38ºC) I found it easiest just to insert the bottle in a bowl of hot water until warm.
* I have found it best to sit on the floor with a towel, and have the young antelope lie with its back against my body.
* For more fabulous animal caring tips have a look my Furry Pets and Friends Index page