Banding and deploying tracking devices are important techniques to study birds of conservation concern, but require that individuals can be safely and efficiently caught and handled. We describe the trapping techniques used to catch Ludwig's Bustards (Neotis ludwigii) in the Karoo, South Africa, for a satellite tracking programme aiming to better understand the movement biology of this poorly known and threatened bird. Trapping sites on transformed land used as congregation sites were difficult to locate for these nomadic and partially migratory birds, but six of nine prospective trapping trips were successful. Although labour-intensive, extensive deployment of leg nooses coupled with guide-lines to direct birds proved effective. We caught 12 bustards at four sites across the Karoo over 37 trapping days in 2010–2012. Success was male-biased, with only two females caught. Noose traps were safe, with no injuries to captured birds. However, in common with other studies, we encountered problems with capture myopathy after handling five bustards; two subsequently died and three recovered.We designed a ‘harnessing chair’ to reduce the risk of capture myopathy, but still encountered problems. We recommend noose traps with guide-lines to catch other large, wary birds in open environments where there is some predictability of habitat use,but caution against long handling times and trapping in extreme temperatures.
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Vol. 44 • No. 1