The month of April experienced some rains that brought with it lush vegetation and availability of water in the temporary water holes within the park that are critical in determining the distribution of elephants. The region still experienced cases of arrow attacks on elephants notable being that of the former orphan Ndara who was spotted with arrow wounds on the body near the park headquarters in Tsavo East National Park. Cases of conflict related injuries are expected to reduce due to availability of water, forage and enhanced security within the protected areas.
Eland translocation from Nguuni sanctuary Bamburi to Shimba hills reserve, 2nd -4th April.
Nguuni sanctuary is a small nature park rehabilitated after cement mining and turned into a wildlife reserve with several species that includes Roschild giraffes, common water bucks, ostriches and elands. Increase in this populations necessitated translocation to reduce pressure on the vegetation. The sanctuary is managed by baobab trust. Initial movement was not successful as the Elands broke out of the lorry after initial drive. Darting was the only option left.
11 mgs of etorphine, 15 mgs of Detomidine Hcl (Domosedan) and 1000 i.u of hyalase were used to immobilize 4 Elands, 3 males and 1 male. The animals were loaded one by one onto a truck covered with a tarpaulin and etorphine reversed using diprenorphine at 3 times the etorphine dose. Domosedan was left to keep the Elands calm during transport. The Elands were finally released after 200 km of road transport in good condition.
Treatment of an elephant bull in Aruba area of Tsavo East, 5th April
The elephant was spotted in the now dry Aruba dam with tissues hanging from the Elephants belly. The team rushed to the scene to find the elephant grazing in the now empty dam. Darting was done by use of 18 mgs of etorphine alone and he went down in 8 minutes. Parts of hanging tissues were severed and an arrow head retrieved from wound. The wound was cleaned using hydrogen peroxide to get rid of pus and doused with tincture of iodine before a final coat of green clay was applied. Revival was done using diprenorphine at 3 times the etorphine dose. The wound is expected to heal with full recovery.
Treatment of a lame Elephant bull in Komboyo Tsavo West, 6th April
This case of a big male elephant reported to be lame within Tsavo West was attended on 6th April with suspected leg injuries. Darting was done using 18 mgs of etorphine alone in a dan inject dart gun. It went down within 8 minutes on which thorough examination of the injured leg revealed an old wound that healed poorly. No other injuries were observed. Symptomatic treatment with flunixine meglumine was administered and given good prognosis.
Treatment of an injured former Elephant orphan Ndara near Voi Park headquarters, 13th April.
While the vet was on leave but still within Tsavo East National Park an orphan was reported injured near Voi gate with suspected arrow wounds. The Vet accompanied by the Sheldricks stockade staff at Voi rushed in to find the limping sub-adult elephant in a shade. Darting was done using 13 mgs of etorphine alone. One arrow head was pulled out of the body while two other wounds on the leg and body were cleaned and disinfected. Parenteral long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered. Reversal was done using 36 mgs of diprenorphine. The Elephant is expected to respond but the wound on the joint has a guarded prognosis.
Nb: A repeat treatment was done on 29th April 2012 due to wound complications and a guarded prognosis given particularly on the leg injury.
With the onset of rains and enhanced security cases of conflict related injuries are expected to assume a downward trend.
Report by: Jeremiah Poghon
The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten.