Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - April 2015

Published on the 1st of April, 2015



By Campaign K .Limo


The Month was characterized by heavy to moderate precipitation with most seasonal rivers flooding making crossings difficult and swampy areas hard to drive through. However this came as a relief to most species especially the grazers and browsers because of regeneration of grass and other plants.

There was a drop in number of clinical cases reported and attended to during the period compared to previous months.

The following are cases handled during the period under review.


Date: 9th April 2015

Species: African lions

Age: Infant


Location Mara North Conservancy


The Mara North Conservancy Management reported a number of lion cubs that were observed to be gradually and inexplicably experiencing paralysis. Two cubs had died a day earlier; however their mothers were in perfect condition. The cubs were all from the same pride with an age range from two to seven months and belonging to different mothers. They were reported to have fed on a buffalo killed by their mothers a few days before.

These cubs were in four different litters distributed within a radius of 300meters with each lioness watching over her litter. There were seven cubs in total and all were affected with various degrees of paralysis; some completely prostrate while others displayed posterior ataxia to complete posterior paralysis though very alert. No nervous signs or any discharges were seen from these cubs. Two cubs were reported not to have been affected had since moved away from the area.

Restraint, examination and treatment

A face towel was used to restrain the cubs most severely affected as they were too weak to react. Examination revealed ascending paralysis without any noticeable injuries. Breathing was labored while temperatures were within normal range. Mucosa was pink and no eye, nose or mouth discharges seen. Ticks were evident. No conclusive diagnosis could be arrived at this stage and supportive and symptomatic treatment was administered. As for the more alert cubs, drugs were administered remotely through darting using a Dan-inject darting system.

Treatment involved administration of Butasal catabolic which stimulates muscular and nervous activity, Amoxicillin antibiotic, Dexamethasone anti-inflammatory and Acaricide to rid of external parasites including ticks incase of tick paralysis.


Three of these cubs responded and made full recovery but the rest and mostly those who were at an advanced stage died. Tissue and blood samples were collected for further analysis to determine this mysterious condition. Their gastrointestinal tracts were empty.


Date: 11th April 2015

Species: Cheetah

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Olkinyei conservancy


The Kenya Wildlife Trust in collaboration with KWS, Narok County Government and Mara cheetah project agreed to collar five cheetahs within Mara ecosystem to study their behaviour, range habitats and for monitoring purposes. The first cheetah, a mature female with four 1.5 year old cubs, was chosen as a good candidate in Naboisho.

Immobilization and collaring

Immobilization for purpose of collaring was scheduled in the cool hours of morning. This was achieved by use of a combination of 1.3mgs Medetomidine hydrochloride and 130mgs Ketamine delivered in a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. She became completely anaesthetized after seven minutes and a blindfold was put in place and Cloxacillin ointment applied to both eyes.

After confirming that the cheetah was stable, a VHF/Satellite collar was deployed .Tissue and blood samples were collected for analysis. She was given 1050mgs Amoxicllin antibiotic intramuscularly for prophylaxis. Additional treatment included a subcutaneous injection of 30mgs Ivermectin against internal and external parasites.


Done one hour after immobilization by use of 7.5mgs atipamizole given intramuscularly. She woke up after ten minutes to join her cubs who were waiting by. She made a kill two days after collaring.


Date: 13th April 2015

Species: Common zebra

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Mara Triangle Conservancy.


This female zebra was seen walking with difficulty and dragging a snare by Mara Triangle Conservancy rangers. The zebra could hardly walk and spent most of her time lying down alone in the open. There was a snare round her neck which had entangled her left shoulder. They immediately notified the Veterinary Unit.

Immobilization and management

The zebra was immobilized with a combination of 5mgs Etorphine and 50mgs Azaperone delivered through a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. She moved for 50 meters and stood still before giving in to anesthetics after eight minutes. She assumed sternal recumbency position and was pushed over to lie on her right lateral position for better examination. The wire had caused severe damage, with the left limb literally hanging, being attached proximally to the body by small tissue. The snare wound was also septic.

Given the prognosis was considered grave; a decision to euthanized this zebra to alleviate further suffering was arrived at. This was done by administration of 20ml (4000mgs) of 20% Pentorbarbitone sodium rapid intravenously through the jugular vein. She died immediately without struggle.


Date: 20th and 21st April 2015

Species: African elephant

Sex: Both females

Age: Adults

Location: Nyekweri forest in Transmara and Naboisho conservancy.


KWS in conjunction with Save the Elephant and Mara Elephant projects have collared some elephants in the Mara ecosystem for monitoring and management purposes. The collars for two elephants were due for replacement and both candidates locations were identified before collaring.

Immobilization and collaring

The first elephant to be collared was the female in Nyekweri forest who was in a herd of close to 50 elephants. This elephant was darted from foot because of the thick forest. The second collaring was done in Naboisho conservancy and this was done from the air.

Given that the two candidates were almost of the same age and weight, same dosages and treatments were administered for both. Immobilization was achieved by administration of 16mgs Etorphine in a 3ml Dan-inject dart and the drugs took effect after approximately eight minutes. After making sure the elephants were in good state and position, the old Satellite/VHF collars were removed and the new ones put in place. 20, 000mgs Oxytetracycline antibiotics were administered intramuscularly to each elephant for prophylaxis.


Reversal of the anesthetic was achieved by intravenous administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride through the superficial veins. Both elephants had no difficulties in waking up and rose after three minutes on average to join the rest of the herd.


Date: 23rd April 2015

Species: Cape buffalo

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Olkiombo airstrip


This buffalo was seen dragging a three meter long snare wire by Masai Mara National reserve rangers at Olkiombo airstrip. This buffalo appeared to be in good body condition. The wire appeared loosely attached causing nuisance but no damage.

Immobilization and snare removal

Immobilization was achieved by use of a combination of 7mgs etorphine and 50mgs Azaperone in a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. The drugs took full effect after seven minutes with the bufallo assuming sternal recumbency. Examination revealed a plain wire snare loosely attached to the neck with no injuries caused. The snare was cut loose and removed.


The anesthetic was achieved by use of 24mgs Diprenorphine administered intravenously through a prominent ear vein. The buffalo woke up after two minutes and moved away.




Date: 25th April 2015

Species: African lion

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Naboisho conservancy


This lioness of about eight years old was seen walking with difficulty. She has an eight month old cub and is a member of pride of several lions. The Veterinary Unit found this lioness lying on her right lateral position, breathing with ease but unable to stand. She appeared to be in good body condition. Her cub was beside her but no other lion seen around. This lioness was aware of our presence and could move her head though she could not stand. The mouth appeared unusually dry. When agitated, she stood up and tried to move with poor co-ordination. However she lost her balance when she tried to move and fell on her side, picked herself up then fell on the opposite side. It was hard to arrive at an accurate diagnosis clinically and it was not safe to immobilize this lioness at this state.


After considering several differentials, this lioness was given symptomatic treatment. She was given Butasal which contains Cyalocobalamine and Butophosphan to stimulate and restore muscle and nerve activities. This was done carefully by hand injection.


The prognosis for this case is guarded. The management was asked to monitor this lioness closely for the next few days and report the progress. If she succumbs, then post mortem will be conducted and samples taken for analysis to ascertain etiology of this condition.


The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit would like to thank all stakeholders who assisted in reporting injured animals who required assistance and also those who actively participated in the process of helping these animals.

The unit also appreciates the assistance through facilitation provided by Minara Foundation through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Thanks to KWS for the support and guidance they offer to the unit. Without you all it would be impossible to achieve what we have achieved so far.