REPORT FOR - January 2014

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This report describes the activities of the Meru veterinary unit in January:

Case #1 White Rhino Carcass Examination:

Date Found: 9th January 2014

Date of estimated death: 5th January 2014

Species: White Rhino

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Solio Ranch


 On 9th January 2014 a white rhino carcass was examined in Solio ranch to determine the cause of death. The rhino died from injuries sustained from gunshot.

Post Mortem Findings:

  • Animal showed good body condition. Carcass was found on left lateral recumbancy both horns having been removed. Evidence of struggle at the scene.
  • There were several areas on the carcass that were obvious penertrating wounds into the thoracic on both the right and left flanks, this caused servere hemorrhage on the skin.
  • A penetrating wound, approximately 1cm in diameter, into the head vertical to the left ear pinna, suspected to of been caused by a bullet, the projectile penertrated through through the muscles of the neck and the left scapula. 
  • A penetrating wound, approximately 1cm in diameter, into the muscles of the left arm through the muscles of the sternum and the antibrachial muscles on the right fore limb.

Significant Findings:

  • There was a massive hemorrhage and clotted blood in thoracic cavity caused by a suspected sharp object that inflicted on the internal organs. Further examination on the carcass.
  • Comminuted fracture of the radius on the right fore limb.

Incidental Findings:

  • A bullet was retrieved in the muscles of the right fore limb caudal to the os humerus.
  • A second bullet was retrieved caudal to the left scapula, the bullets were handed over to the officer in charge of the investogation.

Cause of Death:

  • This animal seemed to of been stunned after the bullet hit it. A fractured radius and subsequent sharp object wounds  into the thoraxcaused heavy bleeding.
  •  Excessive internal hemorrhage due to injury in thoracic organs caused hypovolemic shock. 

    The poachers tried to camoflage the carcass  The dead rhino with horns removed

    Conducting the post mortem  Bullets recovered from the rhino carcass

Case #2 Treatment of an injured black rhino:

Date: 9th January 2014

Species: Black Rhino

Sex: Female

Age: 4year old

Location: Borana Ranch


A four year old female black rhino was reported to have been attacked by lions in Borana ranch on 9th January 2014. She was reported to have shown a stiff gait, weakness and limited movement. There were skin lacerations on the back and hind quarters and emitted a foul smell suspected to have been caused by infected wounds.

Immobilization and Examination:

No significant improvement was seen after two days of monitoring the animal hence she was immobilized for treatment. Etorphine Hcl 4mg and Xylazine Hcl 50mg in a single 1.5cc dart was used. The animal was darted on foot with the dart placed into the muscles of the neck. Examination showed superficial tear wounds on the lower perineum and purulent vaginal discharge. This showed a suspected urinary tract infection.


  • Amoxycillin trihydrate 15000 milligram deep intramuscular injection
  • Flunixin meglumine 2500mg IM

The rhino is darted  Some of the lacerations

Treatment in progress  Green clay is applied to the wounds

The rhino back on her feet after treatment

Prognosis and Post Mortem:

Although significant improvement was reported after treatment, the rhino was found dead in a river 7 days after treatment. A full post mortem was conducted on 18th January 2014.

Significant findings included: Pus on the bladder due to ascending urinary tract infection.

There was thick frothy substance in the trachea and nasal passages. The lungs and other internal organs were decomposed.

Post mortem findings on this carcass were consistent with asphyxia secondary to drowning.

Case #3 Injured elephant in Samburu national reserve

Date: 20th January 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 25 years old

Location: Intrepid Samburu National Reserve


On 20th January 2014, game rangers based at Intrepid Camp in Samburu national reserve reported a lone male elephant showing lameness and a swollen left hind limb. The elephant was approximately 25 years old.


We immobilized the animal for examination and treatment using Etorphine Hcl 18mg in a single 3cc DanInject dart and a 2.2 × 60mm needle. The animal was located close to the bank at Ewaso river. Darting was conducted from a vehicle after trailing the animal to a higher ground. To revive the animal Diprenophine Hcl 54mg injected intravenously through the superficial ear veins.


Examination revealed penetrating wounds into the dorsal muscles of the neck and medially into the thigh muscles of the left hind limb. Both wounds discharged pus and were consistent with bullet injuries.


For treatment the wounds were washed thoroughly with dilute hydrogen peroxide and iodine lavage. 30% Oxytetracycline Hcl 30000mg was administered by intramuscular route.

This animal is expected to make a full recovery. 

The injured elephant is darted  The immobilized elephant

The wound  The bull awake after the reversal drug is administered

Case #4 Injured elephant:

Date: 21st Januray 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male


Location: Kalama Community Conservancy


Game scouts from Saruni lodge in Kalama conservancy reported a male elephant which showed lameness on its left forelimb with limited movement in the previous two days.


The elephant was immobilized for treatment on 21st January 2014.

Standard elephant immobilization procedure was followed with effective immobilization achieved using Etorphine Hcl. After darting the animal moved a distance of 100 meters before falling on right lateral recumbency.


Examination revealed a swollen cubital joint. No visible external injury was noted and the swelling was attributed to joint injury.


For treatment non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs 5% Flunixin meglumine 2500mg intramuscularly and antimicrobial 20% Oxytetracycline Hcl 200ml IM were administered. Animal was successfully reversed from anesthesia and is expected to make a full recovery.  

Preparing to dart the elephant  Examining the elephant

Administering an anti-inflamatory drug

Case #5 Post mortem examination of a white rhino:

Date: 17th January 2014

Species: White Rhino

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Meru National Park


A male white rhino known as Baiteri was reported to have been injured following an attempted poaching attack on the night of 17th January 2014. This animal which had survived a previous attack in May 2013 had shown full recovery.

Rangers who spotted the animal in the morning following the attack reported that he sustained hind leg injury and was bleeding. However an aerial search for the animal for treatment using a helicopter and fixed wing plane was not successful.

Post Mortem:

A decomposed carcass of this rhino with both horns intact was found 7 days later. Post mortem findings to determine the cause of death of this animal were inconclusive mainly because of extensive carcass decomposition. However, skin samples preserved in absolute ethanol were collected for molecular analysis with the RHoDis project.

Other activities

  1. Translocation of a 17 year old male white rhino from Lewa Conservancy (LWC) to Ol Pejeta (OPC) ranch in Laikipia on 25th January 2014. This activity was conducted jointly between KWS, LWC and OPC to introduce a breeding male into the Northern white rhino sanctuary at OPC. 

    The rhino is darted and immobilized for translocation  Preparing to move the rhino into the crate

    The rhinos horns are cut off  The rhino in the crate for translocation

    Placing the crate on the moving truck

  2. Six elephants were collared in Samburu national reserve in collaboration with Save the Elephants Trust (STE) on 18th to 27th January 2014. The study aimed to collect data on spatial distribution of elephant families which have been disrupted by poaching in the Samburu/ Laikipia ecosystem. Collared elephants included 4 females ranging from 12 – 15 years.  Two bulls had their collars replaced after the previous collars failed.

    Placing the collar on the elephant  Securing the collar

    The secured collar  The collared elephant back on its feet

  3. Three orphaned black rhino calves suffering from profuse watery diarrhea were treated with Trodax injection for parasites in Lewa wildlife conservancy.
  4. A female reticulated giraffe died in OPC from complications due to dystocia on 19th January 2014. The giraffe died before veterinary intervention to remove the obstructing fetus.

Report by: Bernard Rono

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