Comparing the effects on meat quality of conventional hunting and night cropping of impala (Aepyceros melampus)
In South Africa, night cropping from a vehicle is commercially used to crop game. Conventional hunting employs the principles of fair chase and usually consists of hunting on foot during the day. The purpose of this study was to compare the meat quality of the impala (Aepyceros melampus) shot utilizing these two methods. No significant differences in pH45 or pHu were found between the two methods. An exponential decay model (y = a + b -ct) was fitted to the pH data and conventionally hunted animals showed significantly higher rates of pH decline (c = -0.385 ± 0.022 units per hour) than night-cropped animals (c = -0.184 ± 0.019 units per hour) - a phenomenon that may be linked to the ante-mortem stress experienced by the animals, and the cooling rate of the carcasses. Impala conventionally hunted also had significantly higher constants for the pH exponential model (a = 5.424 ± 0.039; b = 1.405 ± 0.034) than the night-cropped impala (a = 5.295 ± 0.033; b = 1.556 ± 0.029). No significant differences were found with regards to meat quality between treatments except for slight differences in colour (night-cropped: a* = 10.56 ± 0.229, chroma = 12.81 ± 0.235; day-hunted: a* = 11.41 ± 0.245, chroma = 13.78 ± 0.252: the later being slightly darker). The study therefore found that conventional hunting affected the rate of pH decline of the carcasses but did not adversely affect the meat quality compared to night cropping.