Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - February 2008

Introduction The veterinary activities in the Central Rift region went on successfully, during the month of February, 2008


The veterinary activities in the Central Rift region went on successfully, during the month of February, 2008.  Disease investigations for mange infestation in Cheetahs and Thompson’s gazelles in Masai Mara are still going on. Clinical cases attended to include those of elephant injury cases in Mara and a postmortem examination of a dead elephant in Narok. There has been a lot of rains in Narok and Transmara districts that has led to an improved pasture and water within Masai Mara National reserve and its surroundings which will greatly improve animal health status in the area.

Rescue of a snared common zebra in Aitong area of Masai Mara

This was a case of an adult male zebra that was found with a tight copper wire round the neck. It was in a large group of other zebras and we decided to remove the wire and relieve it. The animal was captured by darting using 5mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 70mgs of Xylazine Hcl and it took 5 minutes to become recumbent. The wire was then cut off using a wire cutter and the animal revived using Diprenorphine Hcl combined with Atipamezole Hcl. It woke up from anaesthesia and joined others.

Treatment of an elephant in near Governor’s camp in Masai Mara

It was reported by the rangers patrolling the park that the elephant was limping and had a wound encircling the fetlock region of the left front limb. This was a sub-adult male elephant that had a very tight snare that was cutting through the muscles and led to a severe wound round the leg. The animal had been in a great pain for sometime and was beginning to loose body condition when it was reported to the veterinarian. It was located in a herd of other elephants in a swampy area, GPS location S -01. 13.331, E – 035. 44. 848.

We managed to capture the elephant by darting from a vehicle using 15mgs of etorphine Hcl and it went recumbent after 6 minutes. The wound was well cleaned using a lot of water and the wire that had cut through the limb upto the bone was pulled out of the wound using a pair of pliers and cut using a wire cutter. Further debridement of the wound was done using 10% hydrogen peroxide then a tincture of iodine solution applied on the wound. Oxytetracycline antibiotic spray was then applied, and a further intramuscular administration of long-acting antibiotics and dexamethasone.

The elephant was then revived from anaesthesia using 48mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride and it took about 4 minutes to rise up. Prognosis was favourable after the removal of the irritant (wire) and the wound treated. It will be monitored over a period of time to find out the progress if it requires a repeat treatment.

Treatment of an elephant with an arrow wound on the leg in Mara Triangle Conservancy

The elephant was reported to have a deep wound on the medial side of the left front limb just below the fetlock joint. It was an adult female elephant with two younger elephants, it could be seen to be walking with a lot of difficulties due to pain on the injured limb. Unfortunately it was in a swampy and a bushy area where accessing it for darting was not easy. It had to be tracked on foot for sometime before it was darted in the thicket.

Chemical immobilization was achieved using 16mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 1000 i.u of Hyaluronidase to achieve a faster knock down effect. The other younger elephants had to be scared away when the mother became recumbent so that it could be handled without any interference from the juveniles.

The wound had a small opening on the outside but was extending deep into the muscles and cartilages of the carpal joint. There was no foreign material in the wound and it  was cleaned and well debrided using 10% Hydrogen peroxide and a tincture of iodine solution applied on it. Other treatments included administration of antibiotics parenterally.

The elephant was then revived from anaesthesia and released to join her calves which were still within the vicinity. Mara Conservancy rangers were then advised to keep monitoring the progress of the animal and report to the veterinarian incase it might require a repeat treatment. Prognosis was good after treatment because only soft tissues were affected and there was no injury to the bones.

Postmortem examination of an elephant that died in Ewaso-Ngiro Narok.

An adult male elephant was found dead by the area residents of Oloontoto near Ewaso – Ngiro at a GPS location S - 01.32.715, E-035.18.198. It was found dead with both the tusks intact and no sign of external body injury. The carcass was about 4 days old when it was reported to the veterinarian and some of the viscera had been consumed by hyenas. Most of the tissues had undergone much decomposition and could not reveal much about the cause of death but it was suspected to have died of old age coupled with inadequate food and water within the surroundings.


The veterinary activities are going on successfully in Masai Mara and other parts of Central Rift region. Basic laboratory equipment and laboratory technician are required to help improve the veterinary services and research activities in the region. Other constraints are lack of internet access and a refrigerator for storing biological samples for diseases diagnosis and research activities in Mara research station. The second phase of “An integrated Cheetah recovery and conservation strategy in Masai Mara” has been approved to begin this month. This has the veterinary component of establishing the health status and investigation of the impact of diseases on the cheetah population in the Masai Mara ecosystem. These activities will require proper biological samples storage facilities within the research station in order to obtain accurate results.

Reported by; Dr. Domnic Mijele