THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - February 2012

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Introduction

The month of February witnessed mixed fortunes within the ecosystem with vegetation wilting under the intensely hot sun at a time when minimal or no rain at all is expected. A dry spell is expected to dominate in March before onset of the April showers. Wildlife reports received varied from human- wildlife conflict to serious injuries in elephants that were human inflicted. All reports received were promptly attended to but some individuals could not be traced in some incidences.

Treatment of a female injured elephant at Kiwanjani area of Kasigau ranch, 4th February.

Kasigau and Taita ranches as of late has been a flash point of poaching related injuries in elephants with fatalities in some individuals. This case was a female elephant spotted in Kiwanjani water dam with serious lameness. Darting was done using 16 mgs of Etorphine and went down after six minutes. Examination revealed a complete fracture left hind limb with massive pus formation and tissue necrosis. Two openings suspected from bullet shots was observed, pus was drained from the injured limb then washed with hydrogen peroxide and doused with iodine. 

The elephant is darted  The injured leg

Cleaning the wounds  The elephant awake after treatment

The elephant back on her feet

Treatment of security dogs in Tsavo east National Park, 15th Feb.

Sniffer and tracker dogs play a big role in securing wildlife within the region but they themselves are not immune to infections. A German shepherd was brought into the clinic suffering from an ear infection (otitis externa). Signs of head shaking, scratching and pain were evident. It was administered with antibiotics and anti inflammatories and referred to Kabete university hospital for ear cleaning.

The vet examins the tracker dog

Treatment of an injured elephant in Taita hills sanctuary,17th February Taita hills remain a vital spotting point for injured and sick individuals from a vast area and as far as Tsavo west due to availability of water. This is where the seriously injured 10 year old female elephant with a big laceration on the abdominal area near the umbilicus was sited. Immobilization was done using 15 mgs of Etorphine and it took 3 minutes for it to go down. Hanging necrotic tissues were cut off; wounds cleaned using antiseptics and water. Other treatments were administered too. A not very favorable prognosis was given.

The wound is clearly visible

Removing the necrotic tissue  The wound before treatment

Cleaning the wound  The wound after treatment

The elephant walks away after treatment

Treatment of an elephant with a snare around the neck at Sala gate area, Tsavo East; 26th February. Tsavo East gate of Sala remains a hotspot for injuries in elephants especially snares. Several cases were reported within the month but only few were traced and treated, this being among the lucky ones. After about an hour of searching she was found near the river bank. Darting was done using 16 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject darting system. High tensile wire which was tight around the neck and hind leg causing severe injuries was cut loose and the wounds cleaned, disinfected and tincture of iodine applied. Intramuscular injections of antibiotics and pain relievers were administered.

The snare is deeply embedded

Cutting the snare to remove it  Wounds caused by the snare

The snare wound on the neck after it is cleaned  The snare wound on the neck after treatment

Cutting the snare around the leg  Second snare wound on the hind leg

The elephant back on her feet after treatment

Prognosis The wound is expected to heal without complications.

Conclusion There is a changing trend where cases of elephants with snares are on the increase around Sala gate area of Tsavo East and bullet wounds and fatalities in the group ranches between Tsavo west and east especially Rukinga, Taita ranch, Mgeno and Mwananchi ranches.

Report by: Dr. Jeremiah Poghon

The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten.

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