DURBAN – Howick’s Pam Curtis loves nothing more than being in the bush, among wildlife. But that’s not always possible.
So the next best thing is doing what she does best – designing and making her unique and proudly South African wildlife capture gear range called BushQuip.
Curtis got the idea when her son was managing a game capture team, in about 2002.
“Wildlife is my passion, and while in the old days they would use a damp towel or smelly sweatshirt to cover an animal’s head, I could see there was a real need for a proper hood.” Her first project was designing a hood for a giraffe. She borrowed a model of the animal from a taxidermist, and also spent hours researching the size of their heads, ear spacing etc.
Her first completed effort worked well, and soon afterwards, a crocodile farm asked for bags to transport the reptiles. Made from strong PVC, these were very successful.
“There’s a definite need for a humane way of working on injured animals, or injecting and testing them, doing dental work, or just relocating them,” she said.
Working with Dr Peter Buss, a leading Kruger National Park vet, she also designed a hood for lions, the first of her “predator” range. The range includes lion, cheetah, leopard, caracal, serval, hyena and African wild dog, while her antelope hoods range from tiny blue duiker to eland.
BushQuip also caters for buffalo, giraffe, and rhino adults and calves.
In fact, the entire range now includes more than 25 wildlife species and age-group capture hoods, as well as lion and leopard hobbles, dart gun bags and carry sails. The hoods provide light deprivation to calm and reduce stress to the captured wildlife and, Curtis said, are used extensively by research groups, rehabilitation centres, vets and game capture companies for capture and relocation of wildlife.
She’s even introduced a raptor range, with vulture hoods, large raptor wing restraints and four different sized hoods to help when ringing the birds and taking measurements.
“Every product allows for an animal to be humanely moved or restrained,” Curtis said.
Her range is in demand in various African countries, the UK, Australia, the US and the United Arab Emirates. Projects in which BushQuip products have been used included the relocation of lions to Akagera National Park, Rwanda; moving 24 lions to Mozambique; wild dog relocations to Gorongosa in Mozambique; giraffe relocation to Rwanda and the desert lion project in Namibia.