The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - October 2011

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Introduction The month of October witnessed some showers which was heavier in the coast and the Tsavo West areas. The rains came as a relief to this dry region with empty water dams and seasonal rivers. Most parts of Tsavo East continued to experience very little rain and there was no much change on the vegetation. Cases handled included arrow shots in elephants, snares in elephants and translocation of a stranded hippo in Satao. Treatment of a male elephant with an arrow wound in Ol Donyo Wuas, 3rd October 2011. Ol donyo Wuas is a community conservancy under the Mbirikani group ranch with a variety of wildlife species. The elephants found here are male bachelor herds from the Amboseli ecosystem that are prone to poisoned arrow shots from poaching attempts. This case was spotted in a waterhole in Oldonyo lodge with a wound oozing pus from the flank and appeared weak. Darting was done using dan inject dart loaded with 17 mgs of etorphine Hcl alone. The wound was probed and a sharp arrow head retrieved from it. Cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and a final application of iodine was done. Anesthesia was reversed and the elephant was given very good prognosis.

Initial examination of the immobilized elephant  The arrow wound before treatment

Arrow head retrieved from the wound  Cleaning the wound

The wound after it is cleaned and treated

Translocation of a hippo from Satao Camp to Galana River, 8th October 2010. The prevailing dry spell has led to drying up of most seasonal rivers and dams, most remarkable is Aruba dam. Heavy farming upstream and habitat degradation has led to drying up of Voi river which now fills the Dam with silt during rainy days. Aruba dam previously held water for years way back, now hardly lasts for more than 2 months. Hippos that inhabit the dam wonder aimlessly in search of water bodies with some getting stranded in the dry land. A case is this one where a male hippo was kicked out of the watering hole in Satao after it could not accommodate five hippos. Posing danger to the tourists the hippo was translocated to Galana river 40 kms away. Darting was done using 3 mgs etorphine and 100 mgs of Xylazine. The hippo exhibited mouth gasping posture with weakened hind limbs. He was stabilized by use of butorphanol and doxopram. The hippo was placed into a crate and taken to Galana River near luggards where he was released.

The hippo is darted  Physical restraint of the anesthetized hippo

Putting the hippo into the crate  Lifting the crate onto the truck

Desnaring of an elephant Bull in Dakota area of Tsavo east, 15th October. Dakota is new area with increase in the number of snaring cases especially of Giraffes and elephants. The elephant was found chained onto a big tree with a massive wire around the neck and trying every tactic to free himself. Darting was done using 16 mgs of etorphine alone. The massive wire was cut free and wounds formed around the neck disinfected and antibiotic spray applied. Complete healing is expected.

The snared elephant is darted  The snare around the elephnats neck

Cutting the snare  Cutting the snare to remove it

Treatment of a young female Oryx in Sagalla Ranch, 16th October 2011. Sagalla ranch is home to some few semi-habituated Oryxs, Eland and some zebra. A disease incidence lately led to death of an Oryx. This case a young Oryx was sick with signs of nervous manifestation and recumbency. Treatment was by Amoxycillin and multivitamin. Blood and serum samples were taken and results not yet out. Rescue of an elephant calf at Dida Haria water hole, 20th October 2011. The Tsavo elephants have been giving birth of late and some of the mothers are young mothers who have no previous experience on the tough mothering responsibilities. Only last month after another calf was rescued from a water hole in Sentrim, this young fellow got stuck again in Dida haria water hole and the mother was unable to get her out. After several attempts to separate the two to facilitate the rescue, it was finally achieved without darting of the mother. The elephant seemed inexperienced as the water hole was very shallow.

The vet unit rescues the stranded calf  The calf runs to its mother

Treatment of an orphan rescued from Taita Ranch, 25th October 2011. One of the orphans did not respond well and lost condition rapidly. Examination revealed stress and poor feeding. 15 cc of vitamin B12 complex (catasol) was administered and the response was good. The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten