Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - November 2015

Published on the 9th of November, 2015



By Dr. Campaign K .Limo


Like most parts of the country, Masai Mara is experiencing increased rainfall attributed to short rains of November. Most areas are currently inaccessible with most luggas flooded. Movement within the reserve and some conservancies has greatly been hampered by these floods.

Following are cases handled during the period;


Date: 10th and 11th November

Species: Elephant x 2

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Masai Mara


This exercise for the purpose of monitoring of elephants to assist in management was done in Masai Mara National reserve with two female elephants fitted with GSM collars. KWS carried out this activity in collaboration with WWF, Narok county government (Masai Mara Reserve Management) and save the elephant (STE) teams.

Identification of candidates

Female candidates confirmed to be adults and matriarchs were chosen for this exercise because they represented a family and their movements and locations are assumed to represent position of the entire family. The first female was collared on 10th November 2015 while the second one was collared on 11th November 2015.

Elephant 1

This female in a family of eight was spotted in Masai Mara National Reserve few kilometres from Keekorok lodge. She was obviously the matriarch and in good body condition other than an abscess on her left hind limb. This even provided more reason to immobilize her for treatment in addition to collaring. She had an approximately four year old calf.

She was chemically restrained by use of 15mgs Etorphine delivered in a 1.5ml Dan-inject dart using the Dan inject darting system from a vehicle. It took eight minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the elephant going down on her right lateral side. The rest of the family members were scared away by use of vehicles to give room for this elephant to be attended to.

After confirming she was stable, the GSM collar was deployed while another team treated her for the abscess which was beginning to heal. The abscess was debrided with dilute Hydrogen peroxide and disinfected with tincture of Iodine.

Other treatments included parenteral administration of 15000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic to counter sepsis. The whole procedure took about 20 minutes. Tissue and blood sample was collected from this elephant.


Reversal of anaesthetic was achieved using 48mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride and 100mgs Naltrexone delivered intravenously through the ear vein. She woke up within two minutes and joined the rest of the family.

Elephant 2

This female with one tusk was spotted near Sand River close to Mara-Serengeti border. She was in a herd of about 13 elephants with a number of calves. She too had a four year old calf and was the matriarch. She was a female of approximately 30years and still lactating.

She was immobilized by use of 16mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride. It took eight minutes for the drugs to take full effect with this elephant assuming sternal recumbency. The other family members were scared away by use of vehicles to give room for her to be attended to. She was pushed to lie on her left lateral side before the collar was attached. She was in good condition for her age and state of lactation.

She was given intramuscular injection of 15000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic for prophylaxis and reversed after collar deployment. The whole exercise took twenty minutes. Samples collected from this elephant include tissue for DNA and whole blood for haematology.


This was achieved by use of 48mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride and100mgs naltrexone delivered intravenously through the ear vein. She woke up after two minutes and calmly moved to join the rest of family members who were waiting nearby.

Both exercises went on without an incident.


Date: 10th November 2015

Species: African elephant

Age: Young adult

Sex: Female

Location: Mara Triangle.

GPS: S 01.36594

         E 034.95072


This female in her 20’s was seen on the morning of this date, dead by the roadside by Mara Triangle Management. She was nursing a calf of about three years. No physical injury could be seen and they called the unit for examination.

  • Carcass was relatively fresh, less than 24 hours old.
  • The carcass had been pulled to a distance about two hundred meters from the road away from the public and partly submerged in a pool of water.
  • Lions and other predators had already ripped apart parts of this carcass with offal’s and other internal organs floating in the pool.
  • From gross observation, this elephant was in poor body condition with the spine, cheek and temporal bones prominent. Score of 2.5 in a scale of 1-5 where 1 is poor and 5 good.
  • The tusks had been collected by the Mara Triangle Security for custody and onward transmission to KWS.
  • A pride of lions were close by guarding this carcass.

The calf was not found but was thought to be an almost three year old female and with the rest of the family members. A thorough scan through the herds around was fruitless. The Conservancy rangers were tasked to be on the lookout just in case this calf appears or is seen.

As for the mother, due to the status of the carcass, cause of death could not grossly be determined but signs of prolonged debility were evident.


Date: 12th November 2015

Species: Common zebra

Age: Adult

Sex: Male

Location: Mara North Conservancy


This male was seen by the Conservancy rangers with a metallic tin round his distal right hindlimb. He could have accidentally stepped on it and it became stuck around his fetlock joint.

The zebra was in good body condition grazing with other zebras in an open field. He appeared to limp slightly on this limb. A decision to immediately immobilize him and remove the tin was made.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of a combination of 7mgs Etorphine hydrochloride and 50mgs Azaperone in a 1.5mls Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. It took seven minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the zebra falling on his left lateral side. The tin that was loosely attached round his limb was cut loose and released. Luckily there was no serious damage to the limb save for small abrasions which were cleaned with water and sprayed with Oxytetracycline wound spray. Additional treatments included administration of 3000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotics parenterally for prophylaxis.


Reversal of the anaesthetic was achieved by intravenous administration of 24mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride through the jugular vein. He was up in two minutes and went on to join the rest of the zebras.




Date: 14th November 2015

Species: African lion

Age: 4months

Sex: Male

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve


This young lion cub, a member of a pride of lions within MMNR was seen near Keekorok area by MMNR rangers on routine patrols dragging his rare limbs. They said they saw a rhino close by and possibly had injured him. His mother had three other cubs his age and all healthy. They called the unit for assistance

The Unit found this cub a few meters from his mother in the a shade. The rest of the cubs were with the mother. He tried to stand up to join his calling mother when he saw us but was unable to. He could only drag his hind limbs with signs of complete posterior paralysis.

Immobilization, examination and case management

Immobilization was achieved by use of combination of 0.8mgs Medetomidine hydrochloride and 50mgs Ketamine delivered through a 1.5 Dan inject dart from a vehicle. This cub was fully anaesthetized within eight minutes.

Examination revealed damage to the lumbar-sacral vertebrae possibly by a blow. His hind limbs also appeared injured with evidence of complete posterior paralysis.

Due to the extent of his injuries, prognosis was considered grave. Taking into consideration his welfare and to save this animal from further suffering euthanasia was considered the best option. This was achieved by administration of 2000mgs Pentorbarbitol sodium. The carcass was disposed of properly and far away from the family.


Date: 16th November 2015

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult (40-45yrs)

Location: Olesukut conservancy Trans Mara


This elephant christened “Fred” was originally collared in 2012 by Mara Elephant Project and Save the Elephant teams in collaboration with KWS. His collar was about to expire so had to be replaced. He was tracked by Mara Elephant Project team and found to be in Olesukut conservancy in company of another four males.

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 eight minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the elephant assuming right lateral recumbency. After making sure he was stable, the old collar was removed and a new AWT collar fitted.

Fred was in good body condition and was given 15000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotics intramuscularly for prophylaxis. Soundness of the collar was first confirmed before he was reversed.


Reversal of the anaesthetic was achieved by administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride through a superficial ear vein. He rose up after four minutes and calmly walked to join the other bulls.


Date: 17th November 2015

Species: African elephant

Age: 3-3.5yrs

Sex: Female.

Location: Naboisho conservancy


This baby elephant was seen by Naboisho management alone after being abandoned by the herd. They called the unit for assessment and possible rescue.

Assessment and Management

This elephant was found grazing close to a swamp. Her tusks were clearly visible and her age estimated to be over three years. She appeared confident even in our presence and looked like she had lost her mother a while ago.

The team agreed that a rescue was not necessary at her age but close monitoring should be provided until she finds a herd to join. It was also decided that once away from the swamp and in the company of a herd, she could be tranquilized and given injectable de-wormers amongst other treatments. Naboisho conservancy rangers monitored her and she was finally treated on 22nd November 2015 with Closamectin broad spectrum anthelmintic, multivitamins and Amoxicillin antibiotics. This was done after being made calm with 80mgs Azaperone delivered through 1.5ml dan-inject dart.


Date: 21st November 2015

Species: Eland

Age: Adult

Sex: Male

Location: Olare Orok Conservancy


This big bull eland was seen by the Olare Orok Conservancy management with an arrow lodged in his left shoulder. They called the Vet Unit to help remove the arrow and treat this eland.

The eland was isolated from the rest of the elands who were grazing on a plain field. He had taken cover in a small thicket and appeared to be in pain. An arrow shaft could be seen sticking from his left shoulder which appeared severely swollen.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Chemical restraint was achieved by use of a combination of 70mgs Azaperone and 10mgs Etorphine delivered in a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. It took ten minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the eland assuming right lateral recumbency exposing the injured leg.


The arrow was carefully pulled out and the resultant wound was debrided with reconstituted Hydrogen peroxide. It was then wiped dry with gauze swabs before being rinsed with clean water and tincture of Iodine. Additional treatments included intramuscular injection of 7500mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 1500mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory.


This was achieved by administration of 30mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride intravenously through the jugular vein. He rose within two minutes and walked away calmly.




Date: 25th November 2015

Species: African lion

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: MMNR (Outlook area)


This lioness is a member of Notch pride and was seen by MMNR rangers on patrol near a Lugga at Outlook area with multiple injuries.

The team found this lioness close to a Lugga with another female likely her sister and three adult males. She appeared shy and had several bite wounds described by the rangers as being inflicted by one of the males. She walked with difficulty limping on her left forelimb which had a big bite wound distally.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of 6mgs Medetomidine hydrochloride and 300mgs Ketamine delivered in a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. It took ten minutes for full anaesthesia to be achieved upon which a blindfold was applied.

The lioness was made comfortable prior to examination. She had multiple bite wounds which had been recently inflicted. All the wounds were debrided with Hydrogen peroxide and swabbed before rinsing with clean water and applying tincture of iodine. Cloxacillin ointment was then infused into all the wounds. Additional treatments include parenteral administration of 3000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic, 16mgs Dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory and 80mgs Ivermectin.


Reversal of the anaesthetic was achieved by intramuscular administration of 17.5mgs Atepamezole hydrochloride one hour after immobilization. She rose up in ten minutes and walked away to join other members of the pride.




The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit is grateful to all stakeholders who made it possible for the team to respond to all these cases during the month. Thanks to those who reported, kept track and assisted in the actual intervention process. We are also thankful to the Minara Foundation through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for their continued facilitation to the unit. Thanks to KWS management for their technical support and advice to the unit. Without you all it would not have been possible to achieve all these.