Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - May 2017

Published on the 23rd of May, 2017



By Dr. Campaign Limo


The month was characterised by a long dry spell, but with adequate forage and water for wildlife to utilise in most parts owing to some rains experienced the previous month. The majority of the wildlife has returned to the reserve with few cases requiring clinical interventions reported.

The following cases were handled during the period;


Date: 18th May 2017

Species: Cape buffalo

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Olonana Conservancy


This lone male was reported to be injured and posing a threat to people fetching water at a community watering point in the Conservancy. This message was received by the Mara Triangle Warden at Oloololo gate who called the Vet Unit. The buffalo had been pushed deeper into the Conservancy, away from the watering point, by the Rangers to prevent any conflict with people.

The Vet Unit found the buffalo within the Conservancy relaxing partly hidden in a thicket. The affected limb appeared swollen.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Restraint was achieved chemically by use of a combination of 7mgs Etorphine hydrochloride and 60mgs Azaperone delivered through a 1.5ml dan-inject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle and it took ten minutes for the drugs to take full effect with this big bull assuming sternal recumbency. After stabilizing him, examination was conducted which revealed a deep spear wound to the proximal anterior right front limb. The spear had split the muscles and the wound was infected.

This wound was thoroughly cleaned with copious amount of water, debrided with Hydrogen peroxide and disinfected with tincture of Iodine after rinsing. Green clay was then packed to hasten healing. The buffalo was also given a parenteral administration of 6000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 1000mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory.

Reversal and Prognosis

Reversal of the anaesthetic was achieved by administration of 100mgs Naltrexone intravenously through one of the ear veins and prognosis for recovery is good.


Date: 20th May 2017

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 2-2.5 months

Location: Mara Triangle Conservancy


This baby elephant was seen with his mother, limping severely by Mara Triangle Conservancy Rangers. They also noticed part of his tail was missing. They called the mobile veterinary unit for assessment.

The mother and her baby disappeared into the riverine thicket as soon after the rangers saw them and when the veterinary team arrived, everyone was mobilised to try and find their whereabouts. After a two hour search, it was evident aerial support was necessary as it was becoming more difficult and risky to track them by foot. The Mara Elephant Project helicopter offered aerial assistance and it took approximately two hours of thorough searching before they were located deep in the forest along the river. They were gently pushed from the forest into the open and the baby elephant appeared to preserve his left hind leg while walking.

Restraint, examination and treatment

After being pushed into the open, the helicopter separated the mother from the calf allowing the Veterinary Unit truck to drive in between them. The calf was manually restrained, put into the vehicle and taken approximately 100m from the mother where assessment and treatment was done safely in the vehicle. The calf had a deep bite wound on his left gluteal muscle and the tail had been bitten off leaving a small stump. The wounds appeared to have resulted from a lion attack and were relatively fresh.

All the wounds were cleaned with Hydrogen peroxide and rinsed copiously with water.Tinture of iodine was applied as a disinfectant with Cloxacillin antibiotic ointment being infused to counter any sepsis for the deeper wounds. Oxytetracycline spray was then applied topically. Additional treatments included parenteral administration of 3000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 750mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatories.


Following treatment he calf was taken close to the mother for release. The mother was calm and rejoined her calf quickly before heading into the bushes. The rangers were advised to monitor the calf’s progress and report to the Veterinary Unit in case repeat treatment is required.


Date: 20th May 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 15 – 20 years

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve.


This bull was seen with a limping gait around the Keekorok area in the Reserve by the Masai Mara Rhino warden. He called the veterinary unit for assessment and possible intervention. The elephant was found alone along the road browsing and clearing favouring the right front leg. The limb appeared slightly swollen and flexed at the carpus.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of 14mgs Etorphine hydrochloride delivered through a 1.5ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. He was fully narcotized after eight minutes and fell on his left lateral side. Examination revealed a moderately swollen right carpal joint without any visible injury. Aspiration yielded nothing unusual. It was suspected he suffered a sprain of this joint and support treatment was provided to hasten healing.

He received 15000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 5000mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory, all given intramuscularly.

Reversal and Prognosis

Reversal of the anaesthetic was achieved by administration of 125mgs Naltrexone intravenously through a prominent ear vein. Prognosis is good.


Date: 25th May 2017

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location; Serengeti National Park


This bull elephant, christened Mytene, was collared in 2013 in the Masai Mara National Reserve in a joint activity between KWS and Mara Elephant Project for monitoring purposes. Since then he has been moving between the Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park. His tracking collar was expiring and there was a need to remove it while the signal could still be tracked otherwise locating him would prove a challenge. This activity was conducted by the KWS and Mara Elephant Project in collaboration with Serengeti National Reserve Management. Mytene was located within the park in a large herd of elephants.

Immobilization and de-collaring

Immobilization was achieved by use of 17mgs Etorphine hydrochloride delivered through a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. It took 14 minutes for the full effects of the drug to be achieved with this bull assuming sternal recumbency posture. The Vet Team turned the bull onto the left lateral side for his comfort and safety. After making sure he was stable, the old collar was removed and another SAT/GSM collar was deployed for further monitoring. Morphometric measurements and samples were taken for research and disease surveillance.

A check to see whether he had any injuries was conducted and he was found to be in good condition.


The anaesthetic was reversed using 200mgs Naltrexone delivered through a prominent ear vein. He woke up in three minutes to join the rest of the herd.


Date: 27th May 2017

Species: African lion

Sex: Male

Age: Sub adult

Location: Naboisho Conservancy


This young male was seen alone with difficulty walking by Naboisho Conservancy Rangers. His condition had deteriorated and they called the Veterinary Unit for assessment.

The Vet Unit found this lion hiding in a small thicket alone. His body condition indicated some deterioration and he remained lying down on approach. When agitated to move, he did so with a lot of difficulty and he dragged his left hind leg which had some septic wounds.

Immobilization, examination and management

Restraint was achieved chemically by use of a combination of 4.8mgs Medetomidine and 200mgs Ketamine delivered through a 3ml dan-inject dart. The vet darted the lion from a vehicle and it took ten minutes for the lion to be fully anaesthetised upon which a blindfold was put in place.

Examination revealed severe injuries to his left hind leg with septic wounds most likely caused by a fight with other lions. The hip joint was damaged with sepsis already setting in and pus accumulating within the joint capsule. The Achilles tendon was severed which affected the movement of the leg. Worse still, it appeared the sciatic nerve was damaged as this lion was dragging the limb which was already paralysed. Due to the prolonged dragging, the limb developed severe abrasion wounds which were septic. Decubital sores had also developed on the perineal areas because this lion preferred sitting most of the time.

After careful assessment, prognosis of this lion was considered grave, especially in the wild, and the suffering he was going through which was agonizing. The team decided to euthanize the lion to end his suffering and this was effectively done by intravenous administration of 20% Pentobarbitone sodium. Post mortem was immediately conducted and confirmed the extensive damage and sepsis on the affected limb were beyond remedy.


Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit would like to thank all the stakeholders within the Conservation Area who partnered with them in various interventions carried out during the month. Thanks to the Minara Foundation through The DSWT for their continued facilitation to the unit. Thanks too to KWS management for their guidance and technical advice.