THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - July 2007

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This report was prepared early before the end of the month because we are to join the KWS capture team in a mass capture and translocation exercise of over 700 zebras and 1,000 impalas from different locations in Naivasha, Nakuru and Laikipia to Meru N. Park. This is part of an ongoing re-stocking programme of the park with different wildlife species.  We anticipate being in the exercise until the early part of next month which would otherwise have delayed the report.

In July, most of the activities involved immobilisation of lions to fit radio collars for monitoring purposes. We immobilised five lions (3 females, 2 males) in Amboseli between the 9th and 13th July 2007. Lions from Amboseli regularly kill livestock outside the park. However, it is not known whether the killing is by the same specific lions or by several other lions. The collaring project was initiated by KWS to manage Lion-livestock conflicts especially in the wet season when most herbivore species disperse from the park. The project’s objectives are to raise awareness among the local people about the lion movements and how to prevent livestock raiding and also to analyse the lion movement patterns in the ecosystem so that adequate measures can be taken to mitigate the loss of livestock due to lion predation. It is a joint research project with the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University from the Netherlands. The awareness campaign will be carried out by KWS and the Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP).

The collaring team and our Mobile Veterinary unit at work  The collaring team at work

Attaching the collar  The attached collar

Checking a lions teeth  Weighing one of the lions

A collared lion in Amboseli

The lions were fitted with GSM-GPS radio collars that will enable monitoring their movements in 2007 and 2008. The data will be transmitted via the internet and  will register the lions’ habitat use and their possible livestock raiding behaviour as well as provide answers as to the extent lion ranging is affected by human and livestock distribution around the park

We also assisted in the immobilisation and re-collaring of another lion in the Taita Ranch within the Tsavo ecosystem in a similar project which has been ongoing since 2002. The collar replacement was necessary because the battery was dead and could no longer transmit data. The project’s objectives are very similar to the Amboseli one.

Removing the old collar  Placing the collar round the lions neck

Securing the new collar  An antibiotic spary is administered to the lions wounds

While in Amboseli collaring the lions, we treated a female elephant with an injury at the rear. Initially when the elephant was seen, it was thought the injury was as a result of a spear and treatment was considered necessary before the infection could spread.

The elephant goes down after being darted  The injury before treatment

The injury after being cleaned  The elephant back on her feet after treatment

However when we immobilised the elephant, we concluded that the injury could be as a result of being poked by another. It was not deep and was only slightly infected. The prognosis is good.

The AERP personnel also informed that ‘Brenda’, the elephant we treated last month with a spear injury on the fore leg was seen significantly improved during the last sighting. It was seen walking towards the border with Tanzania probably in search of its family which has not reappeared since the spearing crisis in June. They have been searching without success for the family to establish the status of others thought to have been injured. They are in touch with us.

Tsavos were quiet and the only report was that of an elephant at Kanderi which was reported limping with a swollen left hind leg. We however found the elephant to be one of the lame ones regularly reported to us.

The lame elephant

We have encountered at least five such elephants in Tsavo East with either of the hind legs lame from abnormally recovered fractures. No intervention was done.

We will provide the report of the mass captures in our next report.

The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with the Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten

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