REPORT FOR - March 2014

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This report describes veterinary interventions carried out in the larger Eastern conservation in March 2014 by the Meru veterinary unit. Three elephants which sustained suspected gunshot injuries were immobilized and treated in Ol Pejeta, Samburu and Wamba areas respectively. A crocodile that suffered a spear wound was captured at the Ewaso river, spear retrieved, treated for infection and later released. 

Case #1 Treatment of a speared crocodile:

Date: 14th March 2014

Species: Crocodile

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Samburu National Reserve


A crocodile with a spear protruding from its abdomen was reported by the naturalist at Samburu lodge on 14th March 2014. It is suspected that the crocodile was speared by livestock herders when it attacked their animals in the Ewaso river. The male adult crocodile 3 meters long was captured on 18th March to retrieve the spear and treat septic wounds.

The crocodile was one among twenty others of various age and sex which were habituated to resting at the warm river bank every evening when bone meat was provided by the lodge. 

Net capture method was used:

 A capture net fastened to a tree stump at the river bank was set to allow the crocodiles walk through to the feeding point. Target animal was tactically isolated by prodding other individuals away and the net lunged onto the target. Once the crocodile was entangled in the net, he was held down and a blindfold thrown over its eyes. 

The speared crocodile  Spear sticking out of the crocodile

Setting a capture net above the crocodiles  Treating the captured crocodile

Examination and treatment:

•    A six inch spear was retrieved from the abdominal wall cranial to the left hind leg (figure 2).
•    Wound debridement with dilute hydrogen peroxide
•    Wound lavage with povidone iodine and opticlox ointment applied
•    Betamox trihydrate 3000 mg deep intramuscular into the tail muscle

Case #2 Treatment of an injured elephant:

Date: 17th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Ol Pejeta Conservancy


This was a lone female adult elephant reported to have shown progressive lameness for the past two weeks, a swollen left forelimb with pus oozing on the lower limb. 


For chemical immobilization we used Etorphine Hcl 16mg in a single 3cc DanInject dart and a 2.2 × 60mm needle. After 10 minutes she went into left lateral recumbency therefore to allow for examination of infected limb the animal was turned over using a rope and vehicle.
To revive the elephant Diprenophine Hcl 48mg was injected intravenously through the superficial ear veins.

Wound examination, management and treatment:

On examination there was a penetrating wound into the left carpal joint forming an abscess suggestive of a gunshot injury.
•    Wound debridement using hydrogen peroxide and lavage using povidone iodine.
•    20% Oxytetracycline Hcl 200ml deep intramuscular
•    0.1% Dexamethasone Hcl 50ml intramuscularly


Prognosis for recovery is guarded due to joint involvement.

The elephant is darted  The immobilized elephant

Checking the wound for foreign objects  Cleaning the wound

The elephant back on her feet and ready to charge

Case #3 Treatment of an injured elephant:

Date: 24th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male


Location: Wamba


On 24th March, the KWS officer in charge Wamba station reported that an old bull elephant suspected to have been shot showed limited movement and required veterinary attention. 


He was immobilized on 26th March for examination and treatment. Standard elephant immobilization procedure was followed. 
Examination revealed a penetrating gunshot wound at the brisket into the thoracic cavity. There was an abscess on the left rump and severe pododermatitis affecting the left forelimb. 

The immobilized elephant before treatment  The wound was very deep

Wound after treatment  Awake after the reversal drug is administered


•    Wound debridement using hydrogen peroxide and lavage using povidone iodine
•    20% Oxytetracycline Hcl 200ml deep intramuscular
•    0.1% Dexamethasone Hcl 50ml intramuscularly

Case #4 Treatment of elephant for gunshot wounds:

Date: 11th March 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: 25 year old

Location: Samburu National Reserve


A 25 year old lactating female elephant with a one year old calf was reported to be showing lameness and a swollen left forelimb which required veterinary attention. Closer observation revealed a penetrating wound discharging pus laterally on the carpal joint. 


We immobilized the elephant for treatment on 11th March 2014 in Samburu national reserve.
Chemical immobilization was achieved using Etorphine Hcl 16mg. She went down in 6 minutes but we had to chase her calf that was standing close by her mother with a vehicle. 
Probing the wound with a forceps showed a deep penetrating abscess with sinuses.  


Treatment was achieved by tissue debridement using hydrogen peroxide and infusion of Povidone iodine. 
Amoxycillin trihydrate 30000mg was administered by intramuscular route. On reviving the animal she woke up easily and was soon reunited with her calf.


Three weeks after the treatment she is reported to have fully recovered from her injuries. 

The elephant with gunshot wound is immobilized  The wound before treatment

Wound is cleaned and disinfected  Green clay is applied

Walking away after treatment

Case #5 Post mortem examination of a black rhino carcass:

Date: 15th March 2014

Species: Black Rhino

Sex: Male

Age: 15 Years old

Location: Ol Pejeta Conservancy

GPS Co-Ordinates: 37N 0267 482 UTM 0004777


The wildlife manager at OPC reported that a black rhino carcass had been found on 15th March 2014 following an incident in OPC the previous evening in which several gunshots were fired by suspected poachers. 
He requested for an autopsy examination of the carcass to determine the cause of death, document forensic evidence, recover projectiles and to collect biological samples for forensic identification of the carcass.  The autopsy was performed on site on 16th March 2014. 

The horns had been removed  Conducting the autopsy

Bullet heads and fragments

Significant findings:

•    Carcass found on right lateral recumbency, perineum 10cm diameter juxtaposed to the anus had been eaten by scavengers 
•    Both horns (front and rear) had been excised 
•    Four (4) penetrating wounds approximately one (1) centimeter diameter at the mid left scapula into the thoracic cavity indicating bullet entry points with a fracture on the dorsal half of the third rib 
•    On opening the thoracic cavity there was extensive hemorrhage, traumatic wounds on the left lung apical lobe, the pericardium and aorta. 
•    Three fragments of bullet head were found in the peritoneal fluid.
•    Four (4) bullet heads (figure 2) were retrieved from the left dorsal thoracic muscles along the vertebral column. An unidentified circular metallic object was also found at the scene (Figure 2). The bullets and metallic object were handed over to the scene of crime officer (district criminal investigation officer)for ballistic analysis.

Samples collected:

Ear tissue and hoof samples in a RHODIS kit were submitted for processing at the forensic laboratory.

Cause of death:

Traumatic injury on the lungs and aorta caused massive hemorrhage, hypovolemia and rapid shock.

Other cases:

A female elephant in Westgate reserve that suffered comminuted fracture at the left forelimb and was euthanized. Both tusks were retrieved and handed over to the company commander at Isiolo complex for safe keeping

Report by: Dr. Bernard Rono

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