The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - March 2007

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For the third successive month, the incidences of animal injury have been low. In the reporting period, there was only one case of a snared buffalo at Luarenyi ranch. Three other cases reported and attended were due to other causes other than due to man.

Luarenyi ranch has abundant wildlife but the primary activity is livestock keeping. Part of it is leased to Lumo sanctuary for eco-tourism activities. The management of Luarenyi camp, located within the ranch, reported the buffalo, which was still tied by the snare to a bush on 8thMarch. We responded immediately and found the buffalo still struggling to release itself from the snare.

The buffalo struggles to free itself from the snare  Dr. Nderreh darts the snared buffalo

The immobilised buffalo showing the snare  Dr. Ndeereh cutting the snare

Dr. Ndeereh treats the wound caused by the snare  The buffalo gets to its feet after the revival drug is administered

We successfully rescued it. The snare looked fresh with no inflicted injury. Fifty metres from this buffalo was another one that was dead and decomposed from the same problem of snaring.

The second snared buffalo  Remains of the other snared buffalo

We thought the area needed to be searched for more snares because it looked ideal for poachers as it has abundant water and browse and is frequented by wildlife. We subsequently informed the Burra de-snaring team. They visited the area the following day and managed to pick 28 large animal snares in two days.

The other cases were a three-months-old caracal under the care of the senior warden Tsavo West, the attack of KWS dogs at Ithumba by a cobra, and deaths of birds at Manyani areaOf the three cases, the caracal was the first to be reported on 3rd March. It was limping slightly on the right hind leg and the senior warden wanted to know whether this could be due to a fracture as he suspected that some impalas that frequent his compound trampled on it. Examination however ruled out any fracture and a sprain of the hip joint was suspected.

The three month old Caracal

The senior warden was advised to monitor it closely and if it persisted or worsened, he could have it be x-rayed for a confirmatory diagnosis.

The KWS has its five anti-poaching tracker and sniffer dogs stationed in northern Tsavo East at Ithumba. During their routine morning check-up on 8th March, the handlers found a inside the room of two of the dogs.

The cobra found inside the tracker dogs room  Reaction in the eyes of one of the dogs

A KWS tracker dog

The dogs had very swollen eyes that were reddened and tearing a lot. A thorough physical examination of the dogs however, found no signs of being bitten. The incident was immediately reported to the Unit upon which the handlers were advised to irrigate the eyes with copious amounts of water repeated after every couple of hours. By the time we arrived, we were informed that the reaction in the eyes had subsided significantly since the first aid was instituted. Clinical examination including temperature, pulse and respiration did not find any abnormal findings. An antibiotic eye ointment was applied and some was left with the handlers to repeat after every couple of hours until they were 
completely recovered.

Applying the antibiotic eye ointment

Reports the following day indicated that that the dogs were fully recovered and no complications developed.

The reports of deaths of birds at Manyani were received from the KWS training school on the 23rd March. The other area that was said to be affected was the Oil Pipeline pump station. The numbers involved were not many but the incident was reported for further investigation to rule out any disease. The species involved were laughing doves, weaverbirds and cattle egrets. When we visited the two areas, we were informed that the problem started about two weeks before but no deaths had been observed in the previous two days. We searched the two areas for any fresh carcases or sick birds that we could sacrifice for samples but found none. We saw six dead birds (2 weavers, 4 doves) all of which were more than 48 hours since death..

Dead bird at Manyani

  These were however too decomposed to get any viable samples for laboratory diagnosis. We advised the staff the need to report any further incidences of dead or sick looking birds immediately so that we could collect good samples. The areas are to be visited regularly in the coming days to monitor the situation.

The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten