REPORT FOR - September 2015

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This report describes activities of the Meru Veterinary unit in September 2015. Drought continues to ravage northern Kenya. Scarce pasture and water resources has driven huge herds of livestock into conservation areas especially non protected areas causing overgrazing and increased incidences of human wildlife conflict.

In Samburu we attended to injured elephants in Westgate, Meibae and Namunyak conservancies. An attempt to rescue an elephant which fell into a water channel in Mutara conservancy, Laikipia was unsuccessful. In Lewa conservancy a hand raised black rhino calf was treated for severe enteritis and in Loisaba conservancy we attended to a lioness which suffered traumatic injuries on its hind legs.

Meru veterinary unit is grateful to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for providing financial and logistical support for treatment of injured wildlife in northern Kenya.



Date: 1st September 2015

Species: Grevy’s zebra

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Laisamis


This Grevy’s zebra was reported to have been recumbent for at least 24 hours and showed paralysis of the hind limbs with no apparent injuries. Scouts from the Grevys’ Zebra Trust in Laisamis requested for treatment of this animal which had not shown signs of illness prior to its recumbency. We visited this area on 1st September and found that the zebra had died earlier that day. A post mortem examination of the carcass was conducted to determine the cause of death.

Bringing the zebra for examination   Prepping for post mortem examination on the zebra

Post mortem findings

  • Carcass was found to have been in good body condition (body score 3 on a scale of 1-5). Inspection of the carcass did not show external injuries
  • Blood oozed from the nostrils and mouth due to self inflicted traumatic injuries on its head as it struggled to stand up.
  • Ischemic necrosis and fracture affecting the femoral head and muscles of the right hind limb was observed


The immediate cause of death in this zebra was complications arising from prolonged recumbency for instance compromise of the circulatory system. Traumatic injuries for example accidental fall was suspected to have caused recumbency.

Performing a post mortem examination on the zebra  Examining the cause of death



Date: 12th September 2015

Species: Reticulated giraffe

Sex: Male

Age: 2 weeks old

Location: Bisinadi, eastern boundary of Meru national park

This abandoned giraffe calf was rescued in Bisinadi area along the eastern boundary on 12th September 2015. KWS rangers on patrol reported that a search for its mother was not successful and was assumed to have been displaced by herds of livestock which invaded the Bisinadi reserve.

Capturing the baby giraffe in Meru  Taking the baby giraffe to the airstrip

Drought in many parts of northern Kenya has driven huge herds of livestock in search of pasture and water into areas along boundaries of conservation areas which displace wildlife.  The giraffe calf was relocated to the orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi where it will be raised and later released into the wild.

Carrying the baby to the airplane   A quick examination before flight

En route to the Nairobi nursery  Taking off for the nursery and another chance at life



Date: 23rd September 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: >35 years old

Location: West gate conservancy, Samburu


West gate conservancy rangers reported that an elephant had shown severe lameness for the previous two days with limited movement. They requested for an examination and treatment of this elephant.

Locating the injured Cow

Chemical immobilization and clinical findings

Immobilization was achieved using M99® 14mg in a single 3cc Daninject dart. Darting was done by foot, after stalking this elephant, with the dart placed at the gluteal muscles. Down time was 8 minutes with the elephant lying on right lateral recumbency.

Examination showed lameness and swelling affecting distal part of right hind limb. There were no obvious wound but trauma was suspected as the cause of lameness.

Examining the injured leg  Treating the injury

Treatment and prognosis

  1. 1% Dexamethasone sodium 50 milliliter intramuscular injection
  2. Betamox® LA 200 milliliter administered intramuscularly to cover for secondary bacterial infection

This elephant was revived using Diprenophine hydrochloride given by intravenous route on superficial ear veins. We are hopeful that this elephant will make a full recovery over the next few weeks.

Reviving after treatment   The elephant cow wakes up after treatment



Date: 25th September 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: 30 years old

Location: Meibae, Samburu


Meibae conservancy rangers reported on 25th September that this elephant had shown severe lameness for two weeks. It was not possible to attend to it earlier because she had retreated to a dense bush in the conservancy which was inaccessible. When she was found the Meru veterinary unit was mobilized to examine and treat this injured elephant.

Chemical immobilization and clinical findings

Immobilization was achieved using M99® 14mg in a single 3cc Daninject dart. Darting was done by foot, after stalking this elephant, with the dart placed at the gluteal muscles. Down time was 4 minutes. This elephant was tipped to right lateral recumbency for examination.

Examining the injured elephant

Examination showed a penetrating wound through the ear pinna and the muscles of the left arm proximal to the elbow joint. These wounds were severely infected. Probing with a forceps showed that the wounds was caused by a high velocity projectile and was approximately 15cm deep.

The bullet wound  Probing the wound with forceps

Infection in the wound

Treatment and outcome

Wound lavaged with dilute hydrogen peroxide and povidone iodine. Antibiotics and corticosteroids were administered to treat bacterial infection. After the treatment it was revived using Diprenophine hydrochloride given by intravenous route on superficial ear veins.

This animal was in poor body condition and could not stand up even after assistance. She died a few minutes later from massive septicemia.

A post mortem examination showed a hair line fracture of the humerus and necrosis of muscles of the arm. A bullet head was retrieved.

The elephant succumbed to her injuries and trauma of teratment  The bullet was retrieved during an autopsy




Namunyak conservancy reported that a 2 year old elephant calf was injured and required veterinary attention at Kitich camp. When we visited this camp on 26th September to do an evaluation we found this calf in a thick bush adjacent the camp where it had been foraging. There was no elephant herds nearby although herds frequently visited this area and it was assumed that the calf would be integrated into visiting herds.

A quick observation showed that this calf was in good body condition. A swelling reported at the inguinal area was evaluated to be of no clinical significance. Wildlife scouts in the camp were tasked with monitoring and reporting if further veterinary assistance was required.

The calf was in good body condition  The calf was left to be closely monitored



Date: 28th September 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: > 35 years old

Location: Mutara conservancy, Laikipia

This elephant bull was reported to have fallen into a deep water channel in Mutara ranch and got stuck on 27th September. We were called to assist in the rescue efforts after unsuccessful overnight attempt by ranch management to pull out the elephant.

The elephant stuck in the ditch  The elephant was quite severely stuck and exhausted

Unfortunately, this elephant was unable to stand up due to exhaustion and myopathy as a result of prolonged recumbency. Area residents reported that the elephant was trapped for more than 30 hours before it was pulled out. Sadly this animal had to be euthanized 12 hours after it was pulled out considering its welfare and poor prognosis.

The elephant was hauled out using ropes and a lorry  The elephant had a poor prognosis and it was decided it had to be euthanized


Date: 29th September 2015

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age: 9 years old

Location: Loisaba conservancy, Laikipia


This lioness was reported to have shown severe lameness and wounds on its right hind leg for the past two weeks. She was emaciated due to inability to hunt and the ranch had sustained it by feeding. Conservancy management requested veterinary attention to determine the cause of lameness.

Locating the lame lioness

Chemical immobilization and examination

We used a combination of ketamine hydrochloride 300mg and 4% medetomidine hydrochloride 12mg in a 3cc DanInject dart for immobilization. Down time was 5 minutes. A blind fold was used was applied before examination.

Blindfolding for examination

General observation showed poor body condition (body score 1 on a scale of 1-5). There were infected wounds on the lateral aspect of right hind leg and medial aspect of the left hind leg. Right hip joint subluxation was also observed. These injuries are thought to have been sustained in a buffalo attack.

Lioness had poor body condition and various wounds  The lionesses hip joint was severely damaged


Due to the extent of injuries and poor prognosis on hip joint subluxation, this lioness was euthanized by intravenous injection of 20% pentobarbitone sodium.



Date: 29th September 2015

Species: Black rhino

Name: Hope (Upendo’s calf) Id. Number 4023

Sex: Male

Age: 2.6 years old (DOB 25th Feb 2013 at OPC)

Location: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (LWC)


A black rhino calf hand raised in LWC was reported to have suffered profuse watery diarrhea on the night of 28th September. LWC requested for veterinary evaluation on 29th September. In the preceeding three weeks coliform enteritis had been diagnosed and managed using aggressive antibiotic therapy.

Clinical examination and management

Body temperature was 36.2°C which was sub normal. Profuse watery diarrhea with tenesmus, a stiff gait and dehydration was noted. Acute bacterial enteritis was diagnosed.

Locating the calf for examination  The calf had a stiff gait and there was evidence of profuse diarreah

We recommended treatment with parenteral Gentamicin and Flunixin meglumine for three days. Oral rehydration was also recommended. Handlers reported that this rhino showed improvement through that day and was able to feed and water. However, its condition worsened in the evening and rhino was reported comatose at 10pm and later died.

The calf's condition worsened and it died in the evening

Post mortem findings

A post mortem examination was conducted on 30th September.

In the abdominal cavity congestion and hyperemia of mesentery was observed. Mucopurulent inflammation of mucosa of small intestines and colon was noted. In the trachea and bronchi foam exudates was found.

An autopsy was conducted - congestion and hemorrhages in mesenteric vessels

Tissue samples of the small intestines, stomach and colon were collected and preserved in formalin for histopathology. Samples of stomach contents was also collected and kept at 4°C for toxicology.


Diagnosis: Enterocolitis. Common causes of enterocolitis include Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli.

Cause of death is hypovolemic shock due diarrhea induced dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Lesions observed in the heart, bronchi and trachea was caused by septicemia.

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