REPORT FOR - April 2015

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Report by: Bernard Rono


This report describes activities of Meru MVU in April 2015. With the onset of the short rains in northern Kenya, there was a significant reduction in cases associated with human wildlife conflict. However in Meru national park there was an outbreak of cutaneous filariosis, a skin disease in white rhinos caused by filariae parasites. Among the risk factors for spread of this disease is heavy rainfall and wet vegetation. Treatment of affected rhinos is described in this report.

A black rhino in Meru national was also treated for fight wounds while a giraffe calf was rescued and taken to DSWT orphanage in Nairobi for protection and care.


Date: 21st April 2015

Species: Reticulated Giraffe

Sex: Male

Age: Infant – 5 days old

Location: Leparua Conservancy


Rangers in Leparua Conservancy reported that this giraffe calf had been abandoned by its mother for more than 24 hours. It was rescued and transported to the DSWT orphanage in Nairobi for nutrition and nurture.

The rescued baby giraffe  The giraffe ready for transport to the stockade


Date: 24th April 2015

Species: Black Rhino

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Rhino Sanctuary, Meru National Park


This black rhino was reported on the 22nd April to be showing signs of lameness of the hind limbs and wounds to the front limbs. It was lethargic and had reduced appetite. The injuries were suspected to have been caused by a fight during mating. Its 8 month old male calf was also reported to have been displaced during the fight.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by a combination of M99 and 10% Xylazine delivered in a single Dan- Inject dart from a helicopter which also monitored the darted rhino and directed a ground team to the animal.

The rhino spotted for treatment  A helicopter is commissioned to help with the darting

Examination revealed lacerations to the abdominal flanks and brisket, a puncture wound to the right forelimb and a laceration to the left hind limb. There was scar tissue formation from a healing wound on the left rump. These injuries are consistent with a ferocious fight during mating.

The rhinos eyes are covered for protection  A puncture wound caused from a fight

The lacerations and wounds were scrubbed with water, debrided using Hydrogen peroxide and cauterized with tincture of iodine. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were also administered.

The vet examines the wounds  The rhino following treatment expected to make a full recovery


This rhino was reported to have shown tremendous improvement two days after treatment and had reunited with its calf.


Date: 29th April 2015

Species: 2 White Rhino

Sex: Male and Female

Age: Sub adult and Adult

Location: Rhino Sanctuary, Meru National Park


Rangers on routine patrol in the Rhino Sanctuary reported that two white rhinos (70W70 and 70W02) suffered wounds which required treatment. This occurrence followed treatment of another white rhino, Teso (70W82), on 14th April which also suffered from infectious wounds.

A team comprising the KWS veterinarians and laboratory personnel immobilized the animals on 29th April for examination, sample collection and treatment.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Both infected rhinos were immobilized using a combination of M99 and 10% Xylazine delivered in a Dan Inject dart from a helicopter which also monitored the darted animals and directed a team on the ground. The immobilized animals were stabilized using 1% Butorphanol tartate administered intravenously into a superficial ear vein. Each animal was placed on sternal recumbency for examination and treatment.

The rhino darted suceesfully  A helicopter required for darting

Koech (70W70), Male, 5 years old

Koech sustained an elliptical cutaneous wound dorsally on the rump 20cm by 10cm. The lesion was superficial characterized by redness, erosive ulceration and crust formation. The edges of the lesion were serrated.

A wound caused by parasites  The wound is cleaned throughly

Elliptical wound caused by filariae (20cm × 10cm) on the rump of a white rhino

Monica (70W02) Female, adult

Expansive circular wound about 10 cm in diameter to the thigh of the left hind limb. There was scar tissue formation, lesion seemed to be healing.

Another rhino with wounds from parasites  The parasites eat through the flesh leaving an open wound

A circular wound 10cm in diameter on the left hind limb

  • Venipuncture: 20 ml blood was collected from deep digital vein and dispensed into plain and EDTA vacutainers for serum and whole blood respectively
  • Skin tissue samples: surgical excision of affected skin for histopathology examination
  • Skin scrapings from the lesions which will be analyzed microscopically for filariae

The dead tissue was debrided by washing with Hydrogen peroxide and scrubbing. Iodine was topically applied and then the wounds were covered in green clay. Ivermectin 150mg was injected subcutaneously and 20% Alamycin LA 60ml was injected intramuscularly.


These animals are expected to make full recovery within 2 months as observed previously in similar cases following treatment.



The findings in the two white rhinos which were immobilized are characteristic of cutaneous filariosis thought to be caused by Stephanofilaria dinniki. The wounds are exacerbated by Ox pecker birds and bacterial infection.

Cutaneous filariosis has previously been described in white rhinos and black rhinos in MNP by Mutinda et al., (2012). Some of the putative risk factors for an outbreak of the disease include heavy rainfall, wet, bushy and thick undergrowth.

This outbreak occurred following the onset of the short rains in April in northern Kenya and subsequent proliferation of vegetation, a risk factor for occurrence and spread of filariosis.

 Lesions in black rhinos generally do not require intervention and have been reported to heal without treatment. However, for white rhinos the wounds seem to grow big and treatment is required. Treated animals responded well to treatment though huge scars were observed when the wounds healed.


Date: 29th April 2015

Species: White Rhino 70W35

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Rhino Sanctuary, Meru National Park


This white rhino carcass was reported during a routine aerial patrol of the sanctuary. Both horns were found intact and retrieved for safe keeping.

The carcass was approximately three days old. It was not possible to determine the cause of death because this rhino was extensively decomposed.

Tissue samples from the hoof were collected for RHoDIS.

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