The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) provides veterinary services to wildlife in protected and dispersal areas nationally from its headquarters in Nairobi. The long-term goal of its Veterinary Department has been to decentralise these services to critical Parks and regions where the services are most needed. One of these areas is the Tsavo ecosystem.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) sourced a grant from a European animal welfare NGO called VIER PFOTEN in support of the KWS Veterinary initiative, primarily to establish a permanent Veterinary presence in Tsavo East National Park. An experienced KWS Vet, Dr. David Ndeereh has been seconded for this project. This fully equipped Mobile Veterinary Unit can now operate closely with both KWS and the Trustís Desnaring Teams facilitating a rapid and effective response to animals in distress due to injury, sickness or having been orphaned. The service is also extended to Tsavo West National Park and the surrounding ranches and dispersal areas, also assisting with cases from Shimba Hills National Reserve and Amboseli National Park and the Chyulu Hills.

A compassionate response to animal welfare issues promotes conservation awareness among local people besides alleviating suffering

Tsavo has an area of over 22,000 sq. Km and an enormous diversity of animal species. Being arid country it is surrounded mainly by pastoral communities, but agricultural activities take place in limited arable areas. However, irrigation farming is now becoming a thriving economic activity in certain areas around the Park and this has further escalated human- wildlife conflict, resulting in injury to wildlife species. Cases of animals with bullets, arrows and spears lodged in their bodies are reported on an almost daily basis. One of the fundamental objectives of this project is to alleviate suffering and distress in such animals by treating them promptly when they are sighted before infection sets in and the animals are lost. Previously, much time would be lost before a Vet could be mobilized from Nairobi when wounded animals often could not be found, or were found already dead.

Subsistence hunting and snaring for the bush meat trade is also rampant in this area. The most commonly used method is laying wire snares around waterholes and on animal trails. Despite enhanced security patrols by KWS to deter human incursions into the park coupled by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trustís organised De-snaring initiatives, many animals are seen carrying wire snares. The Mobile Veterinary Unit is fully equipped to alleviate the suffering of such animals without delays that have previously occurred.

Surveillance of diseases such as rinderpest in wild species is another aspect of the Mobile Veterinary Unitís work. In the late l800ís rinderpest caused extensive mortality in buffaloes, kudus, and giraffes and remains a threat although many wild species have developed some immunity. The Mobile Veterinary Unit can monitor any outbreaks and make appropriate containment recommendations. In addition, the project will investigate the source of disease outbreaks and institute appropriate control measures.

Inexperienced mothers giving birth for the first time sometimes abandon their young soon after birth, leaving their young abandoned and vulnerable. On occasions a mother is killed or dies from injury leaving a dependent calf. Another objective of this project is to rescue such abandoned and orphaned young for hand-rearing and ultimate rehabilitation back into the respective wild communities where they belong.

The project will also aim to improve documentation and the dissemination of animal rescue operational reports in order to help further conservation awareness with a view to engendering a better understanding of wild animals and enhance awareness amongst Kenyans of the value of their priceless wild heritage.  

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust   P.O. Box 15555 Nairobi Kenya

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