Livestock grazing and grass burning are two tools being used by Ishaqbini Conservancy to try and reduce the massive tick population in the hirola sanctuary - which could threaten the highly endangered antelope.
Ticks are more than just a nuisance. For livestock and wildlife, they can carry deadly diseases. In the Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary, tick populations are some of the highest our staff have ever seen.
"Ticks occur naturally of course" said NRT's Rangelands Coordinator, "but because there is a particularly high concentration of wildlife in such a small area in the hirola sanctuary, the tick population is much much higher than usual. This is unlike anything I've ever seen."
To tackle this, the Ishaqbini management are employing the services of cattle, and trialling controlled burning in selected areas.
When the hirola sanctuary was established and fenced, the community agreed they would keep the area a cattle-free zone. Cattle however, have proven an effective tick management tool here. When they graze in designated areas of the sanctuary, they pick up ticks as they go. In the evening when they are brought in, they are sprayed with insecticide, which kills all the parasites. The process is repeated weekly - and has the potential to make a big difference in tick numbers.
Controlled burning in certain areas of the Sanctuary not only suppressed the ticks, but allows for new green grass growth too. Prescribed fire has been trialled in the area that will be dedicated to hirola about to be released into the wider Conservancy.