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 Sky Vets in the Mara in an effort to save an injured mother elephant - 10/6/2014
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DSWT funded Sky Vets at work in the Mara in an effort to save an injured lactating elephant with a young calf.

On the morning of the 4th of October 2014, as DSWT were hosting a small Event in recognition of the Global March for Elephants Day, we received a report from KWS about an injured female elephant with a baby and older calf within the Siana Conservancy in Masai Mara. Immediately Angela coordinated with KWS to arrange for Sky Vets to be sent to the Mara to attend the case in the absence of the Mara Veterinary Unit who were taking their valued time off this week.

KWS Vet and Ranger head to the plane  The plane on route to the Mara


The KWS Vet Dr. Fredrick Olianga and a KWS capture ranger arrived at Siana at 2:30pm and met with the Siana Conservancy Scouts at the airstrip who drove them to where the elephant had last been sighted. The wounded female was with a herd of about 10 other individuals all browsing in thick bush. A number of elephants were sighted but it was some time before the injured female was located.

Siana Conservancy Scouts meet the Sky Vet Team  The Vet and Ranger prepare the dart gun


Finally, after an hour of searching, the team resorted to going on foot and the victim was flushed out into a clearing where Dr. Olianga was able to dart her successfully.  Once darted she immediately disappeared back into the thick bush and out of sight. The team was faced with a dilemma; they had no way of knowing if she was safely tranquilized but if not monitored she could disappear or even worse, fall awkwardly which would be a life threatening situation.

The elephant is in thick bush  Finally a chance to dart the injured elephant

They made the brave decision to follow the elephant into the thicket on foot to ensure no harm would come to her. Luckily the mother elephant went down safely but whilst the ranger was making sure she was comfortable her juvenile calf came charging through the bush to protect her. Fortunately more scouts had arrived and with their help they managed to keep the protective calf a safe distance away so the vet could begin with treatment.

The juvenile calf tries to protect his injured mother  A bullet wound to each of the front legs

The elephant suffered from two injuries to the front leg, clearly bullet wounds. One bullet had passed through the leg leaving a small entry wound and a large exit wound below the knee, the other had passed the leg on the inside tearing a large amount of flesh and leaving a gaping open wound.

The deep flesh wound from a passing bullet  The exit wound from a bullet passing through the leg

With urgency the Vet and his assistants cleaned the wound with water, Iodine and Hydrogen Peroxide and removed all maggots and necrotic flesh, ever aware of the other elephants that were nearby.

The team get to work cleaning the wound  Extensive cleaning of the wound is needed

Hydrogen Peroxide is used to clean the wound  Antiseptic Spray is applied to the wound

KWS's Dr. Olianga covered the wound in Antiseptic spray, packed it with Green Clay and then gave her long lasting antibiotic's and pain relief before reviving her.The elephant came round quickly and was able to rejoin her family who were waiting nearby.  By this time the Vet team were working against the clock and had to dash quickly back to the plane as night was falling and the pilot would have been unable to take off in the dark.

Antibiotics and Pain Killers are adminstered  The Vet revives the mother elephant

After treatment the elephant gets to her feet  Successfully treated the elephant heads back to her family

Finally the team arrived safely back in Nairobi at 7:30pm after a very tiring but successful afternoon! 

The prognosis for this female mother of two is guarded, but the DSWT funded Mara mobile veterinary team will ensure a follow up treatment is done and that this lactating mother is given the best possible chance of making a full recovery. Fortunately it seems that the bullets had not fractured or damaged the bone which makes her chances of a full recovery much more promising.

Many thanks To Bush Tops for continuing to monitor the wounded female and reporting the matter to KWS. Thanks to the Siana Conservancy Scouts for their assistance with transport and men on the ground, to Boskies and their pilot Sammy for his hard work in the field and to our steadfast donor Lori Price for making the Sky Vets a reality.


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