The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - September 2011

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Introduction The month of September remains one of the driest months in the Tsavo/Amboseli ecosystem. Cases attended included the traditional elephant injuries and rescues. Generally there was an increase in snaring of giraffes. Other species fared better in the month. Treatment of a young elephant in Sobo area of Tsavo East, 11th September. The unit was involved in immobilization and treatment of a 5 year old female elephant that was injured on the right foreleg by suspected arrow shot. The wound was cleaned using a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide to clear pus and debris before administration of iodine. Green clay was finally used to cover the wound. Other medication was also administered.

The immobilized elephant  The suspected arrow wound before treatment

Cleaning the wound  The wound after it is cleaned

The elephant after treatment

Desnaring of a lioness in Chyulu hills National Park, 12th September. The lone lioness was spotted near Chyulu 2 camp within Chyulu hills National Park chained on a tree by a wire snare around the waist area. Darting was attempted but suddenly the lioness jumped freeing herself and dart missing its target. The lioness was deemed out of danger. Attempted rescue of a weak elephant near Park headquarters, Tsavo East, 13th September. The elephant cow was spotted recumbent near the pipeline area of Tsavo East and unable to stand. Physical exam revealed no external injuries but poor body condition. Several attempts were made to pull her to the feet but with little success. She finally succumbed to her condition which was diagnosed as malnutrition due to effects of drought.

The weakened recumbent elephant  Preparing to assist the elephant

Helping the elephant to her feet

Autopsy report on a lioness carcass from Dida Haria, Tsavo East, 13th September. The young lioness was spotted looking sickly and emaciated by tourists plying the Dida Haria circuit. On arriving on the spot she was already gored by buffaloes to death. Autopsy revealed emaciation and deep penetrating wound on the chest area as a result of buffalo attack.

Examining the carcass before autopsy  Starting the autopsy

Desnaring of a female giraffe in Salt lick, Tsavo west, 17th September. Giraffe snaring has of late been on the rise attributed to the effects of the bush meat due to drought effects. The giraffe was spotted with a snare wire on hind leg and pulling a small tree. Darting was done using 12 mgs of etorphine and xylazine then roped to the ground. The wire was cut loose and the wounds treated, she was released in good condition.

The snare around the giraffes hind leg  Cutting the snare to remove it

Wound caused by the snare

Desnaring of a giraffe in Dika Plains, Tsavo East, and 20th September. Another giraffe was again seen within Dika plains on the southern part of Tsavo east with wire a snare around the neck. Darting was done using 12 mgs of etorphine and 40 mgs xylazine. It was roped down, snare removed and treated with antibiotics and dexamethasone.

The snared giraffe  The snare around the giraffes neck

Cutting the snare

Rescue of an elephant calf trapped in Tari water hole, Tsavo east, 22nd September. The elephant calf aged about one month old was unable to climb out of the water hole after taking water at Tari water hole, and the mother could not allow anyone near the water hole either. Several attempts to scare away the elephant cow using sounds and vehicle proved futile. Darting of the mother was done as the last resort.

The stuck calf  The mother by her calf's side

Frustrated at being unable to free her calf

16 mgs of etorphine was used, calf rescued, mother woken up and reunited with her calf. Autopsy report on a young oryx carcass from Sagalla lodge, 29th September. The oryx calf succumbed to unknown infection after showings signs for only a day. Autopsy revealed infection of the lungs and pre-scapular lymph nodes. Lungs depicted frothy edema and haemorhages. Diagnosis - pneumonia.

Conducting the autopsy

Wire snare removal from a Female impala, Tsavo East 29th September Impala that populate an area near the park headquarters occasionally move outside the park in search of pasture. The snare was tight around the waist creating wounds. It was immobilized by use of 3 mgs etorphine and 10 mgs xylazine. The wounds were disinfected and antibiotic applied.

The snared Impala  The snare around the Impala's waist

Conclusion With the anticipated short rains in October, the Tsavo ecosystem is expected to turn lush green and an increase in watering points and an expected decrease in case load. The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten