The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - May 2006

 Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Website

The report for this month was prepared early to enable the unit to participate in the translocation of elephants from the Ngulia black rhino sanctuary in Tsavo West NP. With 150-200 elephants within the 62Km2 sanctuary, pressure on the habitat conditions is too high. Because of the confinement, degradation and habitat destruction by elephants is severe. There is therefore an urgent need to reduce the elephant numbers in order to improve on the performance of the rhino population. Like the previous month, the number of cases this month was low a fact attributed to the rains when incidences of animal injury are normally low. The activities started with the treatment of a bull elephant at Taita ranch with two arrow wounds on the lower left fore leg.

Preparing to dart the elephant  The lower left foreleg is very swollen and infected

The leg was very swollen and lame and the wounds heavily infected. The arrow was suspected to have poison. The wounds were cleaned and topically treated, and high doses of a systemic antibiotic administered.

Dr. Ndeereh cleans the arrow wounds  Cleaning the arrow wounds

Dr. Ndeereh sprays the wound with a disinfectant  The wounds after they are cleaned and treated

The elephant was unable to stand on its own when revived because the leg was stiff and could not bend to give support. We improvised and assisted it to a standing position with ropes and the vet truck.

The elephant back on its feet  The elephant walking away after treatment

The ranch game scouts were advised to keep an eye on it and report progress because a second treatment was considered necessary. At the time of writing this report however, it had not been sighted again. This case was reported and attended to on the 11th. We were also called to Sala gate on the 15th after the rangers at the gate saw an elephant bull with a wound on the trunk. We found the bull browsing along Galana River. The tip of the trunk was completely severed by a snare but the wound was uninfected and healing nicely. The animal was feeding well and did not manifest any signs of pain. Intervention was considered not necessary.

The bull by the Galana River  The bull browsing

Then on the 22nd, we treated an elephant bull with a snare on the head at the KMC ranch at MacKinnon shopping centre.

The bull is darted

It was reported by the Somali herdsmen in the ranch to the KWS outpost at MacKinnon. The snare had cut deeply on the right side of the base of the trunk and the left ear pinna.

The snare can be seen cutting into the trunk and left ear  The snare around the bull's trunk and ear

The snare was removed and the injury cleaned and treated and systemic antibiotics given.

Cutting the snare in order to remove it  Pulling out the snare

The wound caused by the snare  The bull awake after the revival drug is administered

The bull back on its feet

We asked the rangers to monitor it and report progress to us. The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten.