Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - May 2011

Summary During the month of May, 2011, several cases of wildlife injuries and snaring were reported in the Mara ecosystem, these included treatment of a male elephant for traumatic injuries on the front leg, treatment of a lion with serious abdominal injury after hunting for prey, buffalo with arrow wound on the flank and a snared giraffe


During the month of May, 2011, several cases of wildlife injuries and snaring were reported in the Mara ecosystem, these included treatment of a male elephant for traumatic injuries on the front leg, treatment of a lion with serious abdominal injury after hunting for prey, buffalo with arrow wound on the flank and a snared giraffe. Relocation of a dominant male white rhino from Ol-Choro Oiroua wildlife conservancy in Mara to Nairobi NP was done to help save other rhinos from frequent fights and also to enhance its security. Wildlife tissue samples mostly from wildebeests were also taken to Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Tanzania for culture and bacteriology to ascertain the status of bovine tuberculosis in Kenyan wildlife. Detailed reports of all the animal cases attended to during the month of May, 2011 are highlighted in the report below.

Translocation of a male white rhino from Ol-Choro Oiroua Wildlife Conservancy to Nairobi NP.

The management of Ol-Choro-Oiroua wildlife conservancy requested Kenya Wildlife Service to relocate one of the dominant male white rhino named “Madaraka” from Ol-Choro Oiroua to any other rhino sanctuary in Kenya. This particular rhino used to fight other rhinos in the conservancy and causing serious injuries to others, two years ago its horns were trimmed to avoid injuring others but still it was still a threat to the survival of other rhinos. It was also difficult for the security rangers to monitor its movements particularly at night since it was wide ranging and yet the conservancy is not fenced, this was exposing it to the risk of being poached. The KWS veterinary team, Narok station and Ol –Choro Oiroua worked jointly to relocate the male rhino to Nairobi National Park on 2nd May, 2011.

Chemical immobilization and capture

The white rhino was spotted while grazing near the rhino boma, it was positively identified as the dominant bull and darted on the left thigh using 5 mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 80 mgs of xylazine Hcl, it took about 7 minutes for the drugs to take effect and the rhino went down on lateral position. Immediately it was down, 10mgs of Nalorphine was administered through the ear-veins to help improve the respiratory rate. It was then blindfolded and other vital parameters such as the respiratory rate, body temperature and heart rate were constantly monitored throughout the operation to ensure that the rhino was under stable anaesthesia. One of its horns was drilled and fitted with a transmitter which will help in monitoring its movements in Nairobi Park. The eyes were treated using Opticlox® ointment and dart wound sprayed using oxytetracycline spray. The ear notches were also enlarged to assist in positive identification.

Samples collection

Blood samples were collected both in plain tubes and into EDTA coated tubes, hair samples from the tip of the tail, tick samples, tissue samples from the ears and feacal samples from the rectum were collected for further research on white rhinos.

Revival of anaesthesia and loading into the crate

The rhino was then revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of diprenorphine Hcl combined with 10mgs of atipamezole administered intravenously through the ear-vein, followed by 100mgs of Naltrexone administered intramuscularly. Eighty (80mgs) of azaperone was also administered intramuscularly for sustained tranquilization during transportation. After revival, the rhino was directed into the crate and successfully locked inside. It was well transported and released in Nairobi NP the same day successfully.

Treatment of a wounded elephant in Siana conservancy, Maasai Mara

This was a case of an adult male elephant which had two small wounds on the posterior side of the left front leg. The wounds were infected but the cause of the injury was not known. The elephant was darted from a vehicle using 18mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 1500 i.u of hyaluronidase, the drug took effect after about 10 minutes and it became recumbent.

Examination and treatment

The two wounds were examined and probed using a long tissue forceps and swabs. They were cleaned using water, exudates and necrotic tissues squeezed out. Then further chemically debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide draining all the accumulated pus and tissue debris, and later treated with a tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray. There was no foreign material retrieved from the wounds.

Revival of anaesthesia and prognosis

After treatment the elephant was revived from anaesthesia using 36mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear-vein. The elephant had a good prognosis after the treatment since the wounds did not penetrate into the tarsal joint and were still limited in size; treatment was also done at the right time. The elephant was still active and in good body condition by the time of treatment.

Removal of a snare from a Maasai Giraffe in Mara Triangle

This was a case of snared giraffe. The snare was loosely hanging on its neck. It was a thick cable winch wire. The case was intervened at Mara triangle on 15th May 2011.It was a mature male.

Immobilization and treatment

This was achieved by use of a combination of etorphine (m99) and xylazine   12mgs and 30mgs respectively delivered in a 2ml daninject dart.

The giraffe was effectively immobilized after twelve minutes falling on his own. The snare was removed and the animal covered with 40mls of20% oxytetracycline antibiotic equivalent to 8g oxytetracycline. Since there was no physical injury caused by the snare, no topical application was needed. 


This was done simultaneously while treatment was being administered with 36mgs diprenorphine and 5mgs atipamezole (antisedan®) in one syringe given intravenously. The whole procedure from darting to revival took twenty minutes and the giraffe was set free without any complications. 

Treatment of a wounded male buffalo in Mara Triangle

This case was reported to have been having a long standing wound on its left flank suspected to have been shot with an arrow. Immobilization was achieved by 7mgs etorphine and 30mgs xylazine through Danject dart. The buffalo was fully immobilized after ten minutes and on closer examination the wound was healing with no foreign body retrieved. The wound appeared like it was inflicted through a fight with fellow buffalos. It was debrided, given topical antibiotic spray, and covered systemically with 6000mgs amoxicillin. It was revived with 24mgs diprenorphine and 5mgs atipamezole.  


Treatment of an injured male lion in Maasai Mara NR

This young adult lion was injured on the night of20th May 2011 and intervention carried out on 21st May 2011, the following day. While killing an eland with other members of the pride, this lion was gored by the eland with its horns right through to the peritoneum exposing the omentum.


This was achieved by use of 600mgs ketamine and 600mgs xylazine. The first 450mgs of each delivered through two successive daninject darts. The top up of 150mgs each was given by hand injection when the lion had assumed recumbency. It took twelve minutes for full anesthesia to be achieved.


After assessing the extent of the injury, it was discovered that the intestines were intact though the omentum was involved part of it torn and hanging ventrally from the abdomen. The area around the injury was shaved, cleaned and disinfected. The protruding omentum was spread to see injured and necrotic areas which were trimmed and cleaned. The opening was extended to allow better assessment of the injury and ease of manipulation while returning the omentum back to the abdomen. After replacing back the omentum, the peritoneum was closed using number -2 catgut suture using simple interrupted pattern, overlying muscles were similarly closed with same material with the subcutis. Skin was also closed with Number -2 catgut with the assumption that the lion will not be immobilized again to remove sutures hence use of the absorbable suture for skin. Opticlox® (cloxacillin) ointment was infused into the suture lines and antibiotic spray put on skin. The lion was also covered with 3000mgs of amoxicillin and given20mgs dexamethasone anti inflammatory all given intramuscularly. Xylazine reversal was done after one hour by use of 40mgs atipamezole (antisedan®).

The lion woke up and strode away to join the other pride upon recovery from anaesthesia. Given the timely intervention and protection from fellow members of the pride, this lion is expected to heal and fully recover.


Veterinary activities in the Mara ecosystem and Central Rift region have been very successful and most of the reported cases are being attended to and treated promptly as expected. KWS acknowledges the support from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust towards provision of wildlife veterinary services in Maasai Mara and other parts of the Central Rift Conservation area, this has significantly contributed to the general wildlife conservation in these areas which are prone to human-wildlife conflicts.

Report by: Drs. Domnic Mijele & Campaign Limo