Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - May 2015

Published on the 1st of May, 2015



By Campaign K. Limo


Masai Mara has continued to receive rains for the past one month with grass and other plants flourishing. Many elephants have moved into the reserve and most of them in good condition. Water is also adequately abundant. Cases attended during the period decreased immensely and this could be as a result of reduced conflict with locals for resources such as water and pasture. It could also be as a result of limited wandering of these animals since resources are now within reach.

Cases attended over the period include treatment of a rhino at Kenya-Tanzania border and an elephant with a tight snare round his front limb at Mara Triangle Conservancy among others.

Following are cases handled during the month;


Date: 9th May 2015

Species: Black rhino (Diceros bicornis)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Masai Mara Serengeti border.


This male rhino was seen by the Mara Reserve and Serengeti Park rangers while on their joint patrols limping on his right hindlimb.He had Kenyan notches and was positively identified as having been a candidate ear notched in Masai Mara National reserve earlier. Both teams contacted their respective wardens who agreed the rhino should be treated and immediately sought the Mobile Vet’s services. By the time they contacted the team, the rhino had moved onto the Serengeti side of the border but with close monitoring by rangers from both sides. Guided by the rangers this rhino was found in a small thicket on a rocky hill. He appeared to be in fairly good body condition.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This rhino was chemically restrained by use of a combination of 4.5mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride and 60mgs Azaperone Tartarate in a 3ml Daninject dart. Because of the condition of the terrain, darting was done from foot but the team was careful not to agitate this rhino. He dashed out of the thicket as soon as he was darted and ran downhill to an open area. He had an obvious limp on his right hind leg. He was overwhelmed by anesthetics seven minutes after darting and went down on his right lateral side.

Examination revealed a swollen right hock joint with no evidence of fracture. A deep penetrating wound was also found on his left rump with no consequence on the mobility and functions of this limb. He was then flipped over to check the other side of this limb. This revealed shallow abrasion wounds at the joint most likely caused by stepping on sharp rocks when the rhino was in flight. This could have caused spraining of the joint.

Treatment involved thorough cleaning of these wounds by debridement with Hydrogen Peroxide, rinsing with clean water and disinfection with tincture of Iodine. Cloxacillin ointment was infused into the penetrating wound. In addition the swollen limb was massaged for ten minutes to improve circulation and hasten healing.

Other treatments instituted include systemic administration of 6000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 1500mgs Flunixin Meglumine anti-inflammatory, all given intramuscularly.


Reversal of the anesthetic was achieved by administration of 18mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride through a superficial ear vein. An additional injection of 75mgs Naltrexone was given intramuscularly. He woke up within three minutes of reversal and walked towards a thicket up a hill.




Date: 11th May 2015

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Young adult

Location: Mara Triangle Conservancy.


This young bull had been spotted limping two months before by the Conservancy Rangers who immediately called the Veterinary unit for help. However the elephant had disappeared with another group when the Vet Unit arrived. Frantic search for this elephant was fruitless.

On the morning of this date, he was spotted again by management of the Conservancy, by the road with the affected limb severely swollen. This elephant was found near a pool of water, splashing mud on the affected limb and rinsing with water alternately. He was obviously in pain. His body condition was average.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilized by use of 15mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride delivered through a 3ml Daninject dart from foot because the area was swampy. He dashed to a small thicket as soon as the dart hit him and took another eight minutes before he was fully immobilized.

Examination revealed a tight cable wire round his left front limb at the carpus. The wire had damaged soft tissues but the joint integrity was intact. The wire was cut loose and the resultant wound debrided with Hydrogen Peroxide and gauze swabs. The wound was septic. After lavaging it with copious amount of water, tincture of Iodine was used to disinfect before green clay was packed into the wound. Additional treatments involved intramuscular administration of 15000mgs Amoxicillin Trihydrate antibiotic and 200mgs Dexamethasone Sodium anti-inflammatory.


Reversal of the anesthetic was achieved by administration of 42mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride through superficial ear vein. He woke up after four minutes of drug administration and moved deeper into the thicket.




Date: 15th and 16th May 2015

Collaring of elephants has been used as part of management efforts to track and monitor their movements. A representative of a group is normally fitted with a SAT/GSM collar which helps management monitor their movement and therefore make informed decisions. Save The Elephant, Mara Elephant Project, KWS and Narok County Government have agreed to deploy a few collars on some elephants in Mara Ecosystem for this purpose. Two elephants were collared this month for the same reason. Mature candidates were selected for collaring.

An adult male was collared in Siana, Olarro conservancy border and a female in Olkinyei conservancy. Both candidates were darted from the air using the Daninject darting system with appropriate Etorphine doses for each case. As soon as the elephants were down, all vital parameters were confirmed to be within range and overall body condition and soundness of elephant ascertained. The elephants were stabilized and then collars deployed.

After collar deployment, they were prophylactically given antibiotic injections before being reversed with Diprenorphine three times the Etorphine dose administered through superficial ear veins. The exercise went smoothly.


Date: 20th May 2015

Species: Masai Giraffe

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Naboisho conservancy.

This giraffe was seen by the Naboisho management and was reported to be limping on his left forelimb which appeared fractured. This giraffe was found alone in an open area standing and in distress. He was bearing weight on all the limbs except the left forelimb which was obviously fractured at the distal metacarpus.

This was a compound fracture with the bones exposed. With the prognosis considered grave and to end further suffering of this giraffe, euthanasia was advised and effected.


Date: 22nd May 2015

Species: African elephant (Loxodonta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Kishermuruak


This mature bull in his 30’s was treated two months ago for a deep spear wound which had accessed the peritoneum. He was treated at Olkinyei conservancy but moved away almost immediately after treatment with a big herd to an unknown destination. This hampered monitoring by conservancy rangers who had been tasked to monitor for possible follow up treatments. He resurfaced recently in the Kishemuruak area weak, dehydrated and in poor health. He was spotted by KWS, Naboisho and Olkinyei rangers on their normal joint patrols.

This elephant had moved to community areas, was alone close to a water pool. He appeared very lethargic and in poor condition. The wound appeared septic with purulent discharge with a swelling slightly ventral that appeared to hold abdominal contents suggestive of a hernia. This elephant was slow to move even when approached.

Immobilization, examination and case management

He was immobilized by use of 14mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride delivered in a 3ml Daninject dart from a vehicle. It took seven minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the elephant going down on his left lateral side. Since the wound was on the left side, he was flipped over so as to access the injury. Examination revealed a septic wound with abdominal organs bulging confirming presence of hernia. There was a small sinus discharging purulent stuff from the peritonial cavity. This indicated the elephant had indeed contracted purulent peritonitis with grave prognosis. He had a body score of 2 out of 5 with 5 being good and 1 poor. He also appeared severely anaemic.

With all the above considerations, prognosis of this elephant was grave. To end further suffering, euthanasia was advised and promptly effected. Both tusks were recovered by KWS security staff for accounting and safe custody.


Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit would like to thank all the stakeholders and partners who contributed in one way or another to interventions carried out during the month. Thanks to KWS management for their guidance and support to the unit. Thanks to Minara Foundation through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for their continuous facilitation of the unit. Without you all it would not be possible to achieve all that we have achieved.