The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - January 2008

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As was reported in November 2007, the Unit was closed in December for the annual leave and resumed back on 14th January 2008. Veterinary emergencies were handled from Nairobi during that period. However, we were able to keep abreast with the developments in the Tsavo Conservation Area regarding veterinary cases that were reported in our absence. One elephant was reported in Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary with a swollen hind leg. A vet dispatched from Nairobi determined the prognosis to be poor. The elephant was found recumbent and could not support itself to stand. The cause of the swelling was not clear because there was no external injury that could be seen. The elephant was put down to stop further suffering. Two cases of speared elephants were also reported in Amboseli and these too were attended to from Nairobi. The injuries were said not to be serious and were given very good prognosis for recovery.

The Tsavos received some good rains in December and the vegetation is still green with numerous watering points still available in different parts of the ecosystem. The animals are still very widely dispersed and difficult to see. This coupled by reduced visitor numbers (visitors and tour guides/drivers report most of the cases to the Unit) has resulted to very few cases since we reported back two weeks ago.

One of the cases reported this month was that of a 5 year old elephant calf with very serious multiple injuries in different parts of the body. It was reported by the management of Teita Sisal Estates near Mwatate. The injuries may have been caused by arrows. They were heavily infected and infested with maggots. The prognosis was poor and the calf was put down to stop further suffering.

The calf before it is darted  The calf had serious injuries

A close up of the calfs injuries

In Taita Salt Lick sanctuary we removed an arrow head lodged on the lower part of the right fore leg of a bull elephant. The injury was a few days old and infection was just starting to set in. It was cleaned and treated locally with an antibiotic ointment while some antibiotics were given systemically. Recovery is expected to occur without any complications.

The bull goes down after being darted  The shaft of the arrow head sticking out the bull's fore leg

The arrow head is removed using pliers  Cleaning the wound

The wound was infected

The wound after it is cleaned

The bull gets to his feet

We also received the report of a lioness carrying a snare on the neck in Taita ranch near Bachuma on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. The search for the lion has been complicated by thick bushes prevalent in the ranch that have been made even thicker by the December rains. However, the search is still ongoing.

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