The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - November 2009
Another activity during the month was the treatment of Seraa, a seven years old elephant rehabilitated and released two years ago into the wild. The elephant had two arrow wounds on the chest area. One of the injuries was quiet deep and the arrow seemed to have been thrown at close range and at high velocity for it had caused some damage on one rib. Two bone fragments were retrieved from the injury. After a lot of probing the wound and ascertaining that the arrow head was not lodged inside, the animal was given a good prognosis. The other injury was not serious. A high dose of systemic antibiotics were given, the wounds topically treated and the animal revived.
At the time of writing this report, the animal had made very good progress. Both wounds were healing nicely and any further treatment considered not necessary.
An adult female zebra with a tight snare that inflicted an extensive injury round the neck was also treated at the pipeline area in Tsavo East. Despite the seriousness of the injury, the animal had a good prognosis because the vital structures in the neck were intact. The animal was in good body condition.
Another case was that of Ol Malo in the elephant stockades at Ithumba in Northern Tsavo East. The 7 years old elephant released back to the wild after several years of rehabilitation was reported to have an abscess at the ventral abdomen that required the Unit’s attention. Abscesses in elephants may have serious consequences if not treated early as they may spread beneath and undermine the skin rather than rupturing externally. Infection may spread extensively under the skin resulting in necrotizing fasciitis, sepsis and death. However, examination revealed an umbilical hernia rather than an abscess. These are not uncommon in elephants especially in very young ones where they may result from a congenital defect in the muscles of the abdomen resulting in an abnormal protrusion of abdominal contents through the defect. Treatment is surgical to close the opening. This would be successful in very young elephants but not at Ol Malo's age for serious complications such as suture dehiscence and infection can arise with serious consequences. It is believed that Ol Malo who had been lost for many months without appearing at the stockades sustained some trauma on the umbilical area resulting to a weak spot or rupture of the muscles that permitted intestines to bulge through it. The hernia contents could be pushed back into the abdomen. It will be observed closely for progress.
The last activity in November was a visit to Amboseli national park on the 25th November to assess the drought situation following increased mortalities of herbivores particularly the wildebeests, zebras and buffaloes. Despite the rest of the country receiving rains since October, Amboseli has received insignificant amounts and mortalities had continued to be recorded until about two weeks ago. Incidentally, areas around the park have received good amounts of rainfall that has eluded the park. Many wildebeests and zebras have consequently migrated from the park in search of forage elsewhere. This has eased off grazing pressure on the grass. This coupled by the little rains that have been experienced over the past two weeks has seen the grass start to regenerate. An assessment by a team comprising of KWS and external researchers in Amboseli was determined to be sufficient to sustain the few remaining animals in the park until the rains come. A pilot feeding program for herbivores proposed by stakeholders in the Amboseli ecosystem was suspended until a latter date should the rains fail completely.
Report by Dr. David Ndeereh The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyah Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten.
Report by Dr. David Ndeereh
The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyah Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten.