Darting Primates in the Field: A Review of Reporting Trends and a Survey of Practices and Their Effect on the Primates Involved
Capture is one of the top ethical concerns of field primatologists, and darting is a common method of capturing primates. Little is published, however, about the safety of darting practices and conditions for the animals concerned. We conducted a literature review to examine trends in the reporting of darting methods and results, and two anonymous surveys of primatologists to gather information on darting methods and their effect on the primates involved. Among 111 papers reporting studies that darted primates, only 18 included full details of procedures; the total numbers of primates darted; and the number, if any, of injuries and complications. In the surveys, 73 respondents reported on 2092 dartings, including 44 injuries. The results show that smaller primates are more likely to be injured. Ninety-one percent of seriously and fatally injured primates were arboreal, although arboreal species accounted for only 54% of the dartings. All primates that were fatally injured due to a dart hitting the abdomen or head were darted with a rifle, which was used for 45% of dartings. The presence of a veterinarian appears to reduce primate mortality in the event of injury or complications. Severe social effects of darting are not common, but include forced copulations, partner changes, and fatal attacks on infants. Lack of information about primate darting hinders refinement in methods that could improve safety. We hope this study will lead to greater sharing of information and the formation of a committee of experts in capture and immobilization to evaluate and regularly update protocols.
KeywordsAnesthesia Capture Ethics Methods
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