REPORT FOR - March 2013

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The Month of March witnessed an increase in injury cases especially in Elephants with arrow injuries leading followed closely by snares. Many of the arrow wounds targeted bulls, a clear indication of poaching attempts due to their huge tusks. The hotspots were Ithumba, southern Tsavo East and Tsavo West near Mwakitau. Other cases included rescue of an abandoned crocodile at a closed down facility in Bachuma gate, treatment of a sick security dog and autopsy of lion carcass. Cases are expected to reduce owing to the oncoming rains that have already started.

Case #1 Treatment of an injured Elephant: 

Date: 3rd March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Dida Harea Tsavo East


The Elephant bull was reported injured by tourists visiting the southern part of the Park limping.


He was tracked down and immobilised using 17 mgs of etorphine propelled in a dan inject dart system. It took 5 minutes for the drug to take effect.


A big wound on the left rear leg was examined and on further probing an arrow head was retrieved from the wound. Dead tissues were debrided and the septic wound cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide at a ratio of 1:1. Tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray was applied to the wound and a final cover of green used to cover the injured site. Long acting Amoxycillin was injected parenterally.

Prognosis: Good

The immobilzed bull  Cleaning the wound to remove infection

Probing the wound for foreign objects  Arrow head that was removed from the wound

Packing the wound with green clay  The bull waking up after the reversal drug is administered

Case #2Treatment of an injured Elephant bull:

Date: 6th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Ithumba, Northern Tsavo East


The huge tusker was treated last year for arrow wounds and appeared again at the Ithumba stockade with a huge infected wound on the left ramp.


He was immobilised using 18 mgs of etorphine near the stockade and fell down 500 metres away.


The wounded area was probed and two arrow heads were retrieved. Copious amounts of water mixed with hydrogen peroxide were used to clean the heavily infected wound. Pus and tissue debris was cleaned out leaving a raw clean wound. Tinture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray was applied. A final coat of green clay was used to cover the wound. Parenteral antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were injected to prevent systemic infection. He was revived and will be monitored for progress.

Prognosis:  guarded.

The immobilzed injured bull  The wound before treatment

Removing the arrow heads  Removing the necrotic tissue

The wound after treatment  The two arrow heads that were removed from the wound

The two arrow heads that were removed from the wound

Case #3 Investigation of deaths of Doves:

Date: 7th March 2014

Species: Doves

Location: Ndii and Sagalla area Tsavo


Reports of deaths of Laughing Doves were received from community members to have occurred near water holes. The team visited the area and assessed the deaths.


The deaths were only seen in one species of birds- laughing doves. There were no gross pathological changes observed during autopsy. The deaths were only observed near watering points- may be connected with water. After analysing the information gathered the disease was tentatively diagnosed as Newcastle disease virus (NDV) pending laboratory confirmation.

Water point  Dead laughing doves

Case #4 Treatment of an injured Elephant bull:

Date: 11th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Tsavo East


The elephant bull is among several bulls reported with arrow head wounds within Ithumba area of Tsavo east.

Immobilisation and treatment:

He was immobilized using 17 mgs of etorphine propelled in a dan inject system. He was rolled over using a vehicle and ropes after falling on the injured side. Two injuries were cleaned, disinfected and treated. The elephant was revived a given a good healing record.

Probing and cleaning the wound  The wound is cleaned

The wound is disinfected

Case #5 Treatment of injured Elephant bull:

Date: 12th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Ithumba, Tsavo East


After treating a bull the previous day another bull was spotted near the water hole with an abdominal wound.

Immobilisation and Treatment:

He was immobilized using 18 mgs of etorphine and went down within 6 minutes. He was pulled to a lateral position after leaning on a tree. The wound was cleaned, disinfected and parenteral antibiotics administered.

Prognosis: Good

Checking the area around the wound  The wound was heavily infected

Administering the reversal drug

Case #6 Autopsy of a Lion carcass:

Date: 13th March 2014

Species: Lion

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Tsavo East


The lion was spotted on the evening of 13th as showing no signs of movement by tourists.


The vet team rushed only to find the massive lion already dead. An autopsy was carried out on the carcass and signs of penetrating wounds, numerous scratch wounds and bleeding were observed. The cause of death was bleeding and septicaemia caused by fight with other male lions.

The dead lion  Conducting the autopsy

Case # 7 Rescue and wild release of crocodile at a closed down facility in Bachuma:

Date: 15th March 2014

Species: Crocodile

Location: Bachuma, Tsavo East


Wildlife rescue centre is a community enterprise started in 2009 to farm crocodiles and guinea fowls for display.

Capture and Release:

By the year 2012 it started developing problems and had to be closed after an inspection which was done by the unit vet. After further consultation it was declared closed and the young croc had to be relocated. It was trapped using a capture net and moved to Galana River where it was released.

The crocodile before its translocation  The captured crocodile

Preparing to release the crocodile  Crocodile in its new home in the Galana River

Case #8 Intensive search for a snared Rhino:

Date: 17th March 2014

Species: Rhino

Location: Chyulu Park


Reports of a snared Male Rhino filtered in fast from Mukururo, Chyulu after pictures taken by camera traps showed the rhino with a tight wire snare around the neck. A massive operation that involved both air and ground team was mounted and continued for a week without success. The vet team was there to assist immobilise and desnare these endangered species. The search continues and if located the rhino will be treated promptly.

The snared Rhino

Case #9 Treatment of a security dog:

Date: 26th March 2014

Species: Canine

Location: Tsavo East


The dog was brought to the clinic with history of not eating for three days, weakness and blood specks in stool.

Treatment and Prognosis:

Blood and faecal samples were taken for lab analysis and returned bacterial enteritis. Antibiotic, anti- inflammatory and vitamin supplements were administered. There was quick improvement and the dog was released back to duty after 4 days.

The sick dog

Case #10 Treatment of a snared young Elephant bull:

Date: 26th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Kishushe Tsavo West


The case of the snared elephant was located by KWS helicopter pilot while driving elephants from community areas back to the park.


The tightly snared elephant was walking with a lot of pain. He was immobilized using 16 mgs of etorphine from a chopper and went down in 5 minutes.


The deeply cutting tight wire snare on the right hind leg was cut off, the septic wound cleaned with water and hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine was applied and a final coat of green clay used to cover the wound. Parenteral anti-inflammatory and antibiotics was applied.

Prognosis: Good

The snare wound before treatment  The snare wound after treatment

Keeping the elephant cool

Case #11 Treatment of a lame elephant Bull:

Date: 27th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Olbili, Mbirikani


Mbirikani is a community conservation initiative managed by Maasai preservation Trust. Its rich in wildlife biodiversity and frequented by Elephants of which most are bulls.


The Elephant was seen with front limp lameness and immobilized. Further checks did not show any obvious injury and the lameness was thought have been caused by a sprain. Anti- inflammatory drugs were administered and the elephant revived. The operation was carried at 8 PM due to distance.

The immobilized elephant at Olbili

Case #12 Treatment of an injured Elephant cow:

Date: 28th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Location: Tsavo West


Tsavo West National park southern sector is home to large herds of elephant that sometimes stray out of the park into community areas.


The female Elephant was seen with a protruding arrow head on the side of the body. Darting was done using 16 mgs of etorphine in a dan-inject dart system. She went down in 7 minutes. The arrow head was removed and the wound cleaned, tissue debris removed and antimicrobials applied. A final coat of green clay was applied.

Prognosis: Good.

The arrow head protruding from the elephants side  Pulling out the arrow

The arrow head that was removed

Case #13 Elephant Endotheliotrophic Herpes virus surveillance (EEHV) in Elephants in Tsavo:

Date: 29th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Location: Tsavo Ecosystem


This is a latent viral disease of elephants caused by Herpes virus and is known to cause deaths only in Asian Elephants. The disease in African Elephants manifests as self limiting nodular lesions in young elephants trunk and face and are rarely fatal. The viruses are intranulclear and have affinity for endothelial cells.


Several Elephants were sampled and blood, tissues from nodular lesions taken and will be tested at our new molecular lab in Nairobi. A total of 15 Elephants were sampled making a total of 50 elephants sampled in Tsavo ecosystem so far.

Herpes virus sampling in Tsavo

Case #14 Treatment of an injured Elephant Bull:

Date: 31st March March

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Location: Dida Harea, Tsavo East


The bull with heavy tusks was treated near Dida harea wind mill, southern Tsavo east for an arrow wound on the flank after reports were received by tourists.


Darting was done using 17 mgs of etophine. The Elephant had to be rolled over after falling on the injured side. The arrow head was removed, wound cleaned and antimicrobials applied. He was finally revived and given clean bill of health.


The region is expected to experience continued heavy rain for the next two months that coincides with reduced case load due to water and forage abundance within the protected ares. Elephants will also have time to regain their healthy boby status.

Rolling the elephant   Pulling the arrow to remove it

The removed arrow  The wound is cleaned and disinfected



We sincerely appreciate the good assistance extended by the unit sponsors VIER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DWST) for their continued and committed funding of the operations of the unit. We also recognise the able hand of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in support to the unit. Report by: Dr Jeremiah Poghon

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