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 Mara Vet Unit - Death by Poisoned Arrow - 9/11/2012
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Elephants have a highly organized social order consisting of well-knit family units which vary in size from a few individuals to several hundreds. But this order is facing serious threats and disruptions from human activities and encroachment on traditional elephant territory and migration routes, including the expansion of farms and farming activities in the arid and semi-arid lands, poaching and all this worsens an already bad situation for elephants not only in the country but in the rest of the continent. On one morning during the month of August a call came in to the Mara Vet Unit from a Conservancy Manager about a Bull Elephant that was looking sickly at the Naboisho Conservancy, which abuts the Masai Mara National Reserve. Hurriedly, we rushed there to check and found the big Bull, who is probably in his 40s, resting under a small acacia tree. Even in our presence at very close quarters he seemed disinterested in us, which is not usual for a healthy elephant. Another discouraging sign was that he seemed malnourished with sunken cheeks and a visible backbone.

The wild bull is located and darted  The bull is soon down for treatment

The vet prepares for treatment

Another negative sign became evident when the elephant was darted; he moved a few meters away stopped and quietly looked at us, probably wondering what we were up to with him. But again maybe he could tell we were just trying to help ease his pain and give him another chance of life. A few minutes later he was down under narcosis and we rushed to check what was ailing him. Since he had gone down on the wrong side we had to use ropes and cars to turn him. To our utter surprise, there was only a small wound about 15cm deep on the upper side close to the hip bone. We suspected a sharp object, probably an arrow, might have caused it and for it to have weakened such a massive animal in such a short time it was most likely poisoned. The wound was cleaned and all medication applied but on being revived he could not gather enough strength to stand up on his own. He struggled for several minutes without success and we agreed to try and use a rope tied on his tusks and pulled by a car to help him stand. Sadly five days later he succumbed to the lethal poison on the arrow despite our efforts to save him. Such cases, which are ending tragically, are on the rise and they can be prevented if all stakeholders come together, lay down strategies and implement them for the good of the many African elephants suffering in the wild.We say thank you to everyone who makes this Vet unit possible, without your support this and many other interventions would not have been possible.

Treating the wound  The bull awakes from his treatment

Thank you. Micheni Felix Mara Vet Unit    

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