The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - January 2009

 Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Website

We reported back from the annual leave on 15th January 2009. During our absence, veterinary emergencies were handled from Nairobi. During that period we maintained contact with the Tsavos in regard to veterinary activities. The main activity that was undertaken in December was the translocation of 10 giraffes, 35 Kongonis (Coke’s Hartebeests) and 4 Impalas from areas neighbouring the parks to Shimba Hills national reserve in an effort to improve the biodiversity of the reserve. There was also an impala that was treated for a snare on the leg at Satao in Tsavo East as well as an elephant with a snare around the neck at the same place that was not found. There were no cases from Tsavo West while one elephant was treated for spear injuries in Amboseli national park.

Two weeks after resumption to the end of January, we rescued a 6 months old elephant calf at Ziwani. The calf had multiple spear wounds at different parts of the body and had been captured by patrol rangers who found it alone and confined it in a house at Ziwani gate in Tsavo West. The wounds were treated before the calf was airlifted to Nairobi the following day after an overnight stay at the Voi elephant stockades. Subsequent treatments are ongoing in Nairobi for some of the wounds which have taken long to heal. The prognosis for recovery seems favourable.

The calf in a house at the Ziwani gate  The calf is given some milk

The calf had been cut on the face  The calf had numerous spear wounds

Loading the calf into the vehicle  The calf in the back of the vehicle

The calf is offloaded at the Voi stockades  One of the spear wounds

Dr. Ndeereh begins to clean one of the wounds  Cleaning one of the wounds

Disinfecting one of the wounds

A 15 months old elephant calf in the company of an adult female and another calf was sighted at Satao limping from a swollen left fore leg. The report was relayed to the unit and we found the three about a kilometre west of the Satao camp. Though there was no visible physical injury we decided to immobilise the calf for closer examination of the problem. This was achieved with 3 mg of Etorphine hydrochloride. Upon examination, we ruled out fracture which was initially suspected. The problem was on the elbow joint which was swollen probably following some sprain in some bad terrain. It was given Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory and analgesic drug and some antibiotics. The prognosis for recovery was favourable.

The calf is darted  The immobilised calf

The calf had a swollen elbow joint  One of the calf's ears had nearly been cut in half

An anti-inflamatory is administered  The calf reunited with its mother

One of the wounds after it is cleaned and treated  Some of the calf's wounds after treatment

The search for the elephant carrying a snare reported at Satao in December has been done for at least three days now since we resumed. There has been no other sighting and the search will continue. We also visited Tsavo West to assess the probable cause of two hippos at Tsavo River near Ziwani. Several others were said to be in poor body conditions. However during our visit, we found all the hippos no where in sight and we suspected they had moved upstream in search of food and water. The river has very little water downstream. The area is also very dry for it received very little rains in November. The hippos were therefore forced to walk very long distances in search of food which had rendered some of them emaciated and weak. We suspect the two died from the effects of the drought. The carcasses were too decomposed and only fragmented bones and skin remained.

Report by: Dr. David Ndeereh

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