THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - August 2008

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Most of the month of August was spent patrolling the parks to assess the general health status of the animals following the reduced incidents of animal injuries being reported to the Unit in the recent months. The parks remained dry in most areas and different animal species are concentrated in the few watering points that are still remaining. Elephant was the most frequently sighted animal species.

Wild elephant herd  Wild elephants at a mud wallow

Wild herd  Some wild elephants

The month had three cases of elephant injuries in Amboseli national park. One of the animals was injured with a spear on the left abdominal area. The injury was not serious and was slightly infected. It was estimated to be several days old when the elephant was sighted just outside the southern boundary at Kimana gate. It was in the company of six other bulls. It was cleaned and topically treated and systemic antibiotics administered. Reports say the animal has recovered fully.

The immobilised elephant  The wound before treatment, seeping pus

Probing the wound to assess the extent of the injury  Cleaning the wound to remove the pus

The spear wound after it is cleaned and disinfected  The elephant back on its feet after treatment

The other was a 35 year old bull with a massively swollen entire right fore leg. It could hardly walk and was spending most of the time lying down. There was no physical injury that was visible but we suspected poisoned arrow made from a nail that is a common method of poisoning elephants in the Tsavos. This type of arrow has no hooks/barbs and is easily pulled out by the elephant upon impact leaving out a very tiny penetrating wound that closes soon after leaving no noticeable mark. Majority of animals injured by poisoned arrows do not survive. The traditional poisons are made from a concoction of herbs and there are no known antidotes. It was recommended that the animal be put down because the condition was beyond any assistance.

The swollen leg from the front  Side view of the swollen leg

The third case was sighted when we were there attending to the above two elephants. It was outside the park in the community areas on the western side of the park close to the Tanzania border. It had an injury on the left fore leg from a poisoned nail arrow as described above. The leg was moderately swollen resulting to severe lameness. Antibiotics and a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drug (Dexamethasone) were administered systemically. The tiny penetrating wound was infused with an antibiotic ointment. There has been no more sighting of the elephant after this treatment. Prognosis was guarded.

The elephant is darted

The elephant goes down after being darted  Probing the penetrating wound caused by the arrow

The immobilized elephant after treatment  The elephant back on its feet

We were requested to examine and determine the probable cause of death in a four-year- old elephant near Aruba. The carcass did not have visible physical injuries. It was however in an advanced stage of decomposition to do a post-mortem.

The dead calf

Lastly we treated a common duiker that was brought to the Unit by the Bura de-snaring team after it was rescued from a snare outside the Tsavo East national park at Ndome. It had bruises on the neck and legs which were not serious. An antibiotic spray and fly repellent as well as a systemic antibiotic were administered and the animal released with the Tsavo Research compound.

The duiker in the back of the vets vehicle

Antibiotic spray was administered to the bruises on the duikers legs  The duiker had bruises on its neck caused by the snare

The duiker free after its ordeal

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