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Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

The use of deslorelin implants for the long-term contraception of lionesses and tigers

H. J. Bertschinger A D , M. A. de Barros Vaz Guimarães B , T. E. Trigg C and A. Human A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Section of Reproduction, Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Private Bag X04, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

B Departamento de Reprodução Animal, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.

C Peptech Animal Health Pty Limited, Locked Bag No. 2053, Macquarie Park, NSW 2113, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Wildlife Research 35(6) 525-530
Submitted: 11 September 2007  Accepted: 27 March 2008   Published: 22 October 2008


Contraception is an essential tool for controlling reproduction in captive and free-ranging lions. This paper describes the treatment and contraception of 23 captive and 40 free-ranging lionesses (Panthera leo) and four captive tigers (Panthera tigris) in South Africa using 3 × 4.7 mg, 2 × 4.7 mg, 9.4 mg or 4.7 + 9.4 mg deslorelin implants. Thirty-one lionesses were treated more than once at 11- to 60-month intervals. In Brazil, two lionesses were treated with 9.4-mg implants and faecal progesterone and oestradiol concentrations were monitored for 920 days. All combinations of deslorelin showed the length of contraception to be around 30 months with one 3 × 4.7 mg treatment lasting 40 months in one captive lioness. The mean time taken to reconception was 30.1 months for the 3 × 4.7 mg combination. The faecal analyses of the lionesses in Brazil reflected quiescent ovarian activity for periods of 17 and 30 months, respectively, when small oestradiol peaks but no progesterone peaks started to appear. This confirmed the field observations in South Africa. No side effects occurred although several of the lionesses were treated repeatedly for up to 8 years. Deslorelin (Suprelorin) is a safe and effective means of controlling reproduction in captive or free-ranging populations of lions. Where contraception is to be maintained, the implementation of implants at 24-month intervals is recommended.


The Johannesburg and São Paulo Zoos and National Zoological Gardens of South Africa are thanked as well as the following private game reserves and parks: Thornybush, Mabula, Makalali, Entabeni, Welgevonden, Lion Park and Lion and Rhino Park.


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