Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit - September 2014

Introduction: Early days of the month were characterized by moderate precipitation which increased towards the end


Early days of the month were characterized by moderate precipitation which increased towards the end. There is also evidence of diminished pasture with many grazers, especially wildebeests and buffaloes showing poor body condition as a result. This has proved a challenge to the old and toothless with a few in this category succumbing.Generally, there were few cases of intervention over the month compared to the previous month.

The following are cases intervened and activities undertaken during the period.

Case#1 Follow up treatment of an elephant:

Date: 10th September 2014

Species: African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Mararianta.


This elephant thought to be one of the group harassed earlier in Marti, had been treated the previous month for gunshot wound on his front left limb. The mara elephant project team monitored it for a while and showed improvement. However during the early days of this month, he appeared to limp again with limited movement. They got concerned and immediately informed the Mobile veterinary unit who responded to asses.

General observation:

The elephant was feeding in a small thicket and showed slight limp while moving. Nothing much had changed in the body condition which remained average.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

After pushing this elephant out of the thicket, he was darted  using 17mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride through a 3ml Daninject dart by vehicle. It took 8minutes for the drug to take full effect with the elephant assuming left lateral recumbency.

Examination revealed an arrow head lodged on the medial surface of the left forelimb just above the carpal joint. The arrowhead had been in place for not more than eight days with some sepsis setting up. This was a poisoned arrow recently lodged.

The arrow head was removed gently and the wound cleaned with hydrogen peroxide wiped clean with swabs before Iodine and Oxytetracycline spray being applied topically. Green clay was then packed onto the wound. It was also an opportunity to assess the previous wound which was fast healing and was managed the same way. In addition, this elephant was given 15000mgs Amoxicillin Antibiotic and 100mgs Dexamethasone Sodium Anti-Inflammatory intramuscularly.

It appears that due to his slow movement because of the previous injury, this elephant was an easier target for poachers who tried to kill him with poisoned arrows. The KWS security team and the Mara elephant project rangers present at the time of treatment were advised to keep vigil and monitor this elephant with big tusks that appears to be targeted by poachers.


This was achieved by administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride through the ear vein. The elephant woke up after two minutes and walked away.



Case#2: Treatment of a young elephant bull.

Date: 13th September 2014

Species: African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Young adult (18-20years)

Location: Naboisho conservancy.


This elephant was spotted by Naboisho management in a group of other elephants depicting lameness while walking. They said he was among a group of new elephants who had just arrived at the conservancy from elsewhere. They called us to assist treat this elephant.

General observation:

This elephant appeared to be in good body condition though limping on his right forelimb. The carpal joint looked abit swollen but with no obvious wound. The elephant could still put on weight on this limb. A decision to immobilize this elephant for closer examination was arrived at.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

Immobilization was achieved by delivery of 14mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride remotely through a 3ml Daninject dart. Darting was by vehicle. The drugs took effect after 8minutes with elephant assuming right lateral recumbency. After examining the inner surface of the right carpus which had no injury, the elephant was flipped over to examine the lateral surface. No wound was evident though the joint was moderately swollen and stiff. This appeared to be a long standing sprain with resultant flexion of the joint. The joint had become stiff with limited mobility. Aspiration of the joint yielded nothing unusual.

The elephant was given 100mgs Dexamethasone Sodium Anti-inflammatory and 15000mgs Amoxicillin Trihydrate Antibiotic intramuscularly.The swelling was also gently massaged for 15minutes to try and improve blood circulation.


This was achieved by use of 42mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride given intravenously through the ear vein. The elephant woke up in two minutes to join other members close by.



Case #3: Treatment of a female cheetah.

Date: 17th September2014.

Species: Cheetah (Acynonix jubatus).

Sex: Female.

Age: Adult.

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve.


This female cheetah was spotted by a visiting tourist who immediately sought our contacts and called us to help this cheetah with mange.

General examination:

This cheetah was alone but appeared to have fed recently. The body condition was good save for Alopecia in some areas occasioned by mange. We found her relaxing under a shade.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

Immobilization was achieved chemically by use of combination of 1.3mgs Medetomidine and 130mgs Ketamine delivered through a 3ml Daninject dart. Darting was by vehicle. The drugs took full effect after ten minutes.

Examination revealed moderate mange infestation that had affected the face including both ears, the underbelly and lateral surfaces of both front and hind limbs.

The affected areas were scrapped to remove debris, disinfected with lugol’s Iodine before tetracycline spray being applied. The cheetah was given 750mgs Amoxicillin Antibiotic and 10mgs Dexamethasone Sodium anti-inflammatory intramuscularly. In addition 30mgs Ivermectin was given subcutaneously to get rid of mange and other internal and external parasites.


This cheetah was given 5mgs Atipamizole intramuscularly one hour after immobilization. She woke up after five minutes and walked away.



Case#4: Post mortem of a male elephant.

Date: 20th September2014

Species: African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult (35 – 40yrs)

Location: Olkinyei conservancy.

GPS: 36M0770664

       UTM 98447762


The fresh carcass of this elephant was spotted by the Olkinyei conservancy security team on patrol on the morning of this date. They immediately called us to determine the cause of death.

General examination of the carcass:

The following were noted on general examination;

  • The carcass was lying on his left lateral with both tusks intact.
  • Part of ventral abdomen had been ripped open by scavengers.
  • There was no evidence of struggle before death at the scene.
  • The elephant appeared to have been in good body condition just before death with body score of 4 in a scale of 1to 5 where 1 is poor and 5perfect.
  • Fly eggs could be seen just laid on some areas of the carcass.
  • The carcass was less than 24hrs old and was still relatively fresh.
  • On turning the carcass to assess the left side, an open would inflicted by spear was seen with omenta popping and ingesta seeping out.
  • The wound appeared to be less than 48 hrs old and was relatively fresh.

On opening the carcass, the following observation was made.

  1. The wound was about 4inches wide and about 2 feet deep.
  2. Both small and large intestines were ruptured and the Ingesta had contaminated the Peritoneum.
  3. There were signs of acute chemical and Septic Peritonitis.

Post mortem diagnosis:

This elephant died as a result of Acute Chemical and Septic Peritonitis occasioned by resultant rupture of bowels through spearing. The chemical and microbial contents of the Gastrointestinal system contaminated the Peritoneum. The spear too could have been laced with poison. Due to the size of the tusks, the elephant could have been a target of poachers. Both tusks were recovered and taken for accountability and safe custody by KWS security team that was around.  

Case#5: Rescue of an elephant calf.

Date: 22nd September 2014

Species: African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 10 months

Location: Mara North Conservancy, near Musiara gate.


Mara North Conservancy rangers called for assistance in capturing and rescue of this baby elephant whose mother died suddenly on the morning of 22nd September 2014.This baby elephant was left with an older brother who was very protective of him. He appeared to be in good health and resisting capture.


This baby elephant was under protection of an older brother who was scared away by use of vehicles to join another herd. He was manually restrained with help of ropes and 25mgs of Azaperone given intramuscularly to calm him. He was then transported to Musiara airstrip to be taken to David Sheldrick Orphanage in Nairobi. Just before being put on plane, another dose of 25mgs Azaperone was administered. All vital parameters of this baby elephant were within range.

Post mortem of the mother revealed that she died of Acute Gastroenteritis of an undetermined Aeteology. Both tusks were recovered by Mara North Conservancy rangers for onward transmission to KWS Kilgoris station for accountability and safe custody.

Case#6: Sampling of buffaloes for Foot and Mouth Disease and other pathological conditions.

Date: 22nd to 27th September 2014

Species: Buffaloes

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies.

This one week exercise was conducted in conjunction with a team from KWS  headquarters (veterinary department) together with a team from Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock  and Fisheries (Foot and Mouth Disease Laboratories, Embakasi).This sampling aims to establish the Foot and Mouth Disease virus Serotypes existing in the buffaloes and compare with the ones circulating in the domestic animals. This is the second phase of investigation after the first one having been carried out in 2012.The results of this investigation will help advice management of both sectors on best control strategies of this notifiable disease. Samples collected will also reveal whether there are other parasites being haboured by buffaloes and the best way to control them. During the exercise, a total of 34 buffaloes were sampled.

The exercise went on smoothly.

Case#7: Treatment of a warthog.

Date: 28th September 2014

Species: Warthog

Sex: Female

Age: Young adult

Location: Kichwa Tempo camp


This warthog was seen and reported to us by Care for the wild rangers in conjunction with the Mara Triangle security team. The warthog was seen grazing close to the camp in company of others.

General observation:

The warthog was evidently in pain, though grazing. She could be seen limping with her right hind limb hardly placing weight on it. She was in a group of another seven warthogs.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

She was chemically immobilized by use of a combination of 2mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride and 20mgs Azaperone in a 2ml Daninject dart by vehicle. The drugs took effect after 3minutes. A Blind fold was put in place before the examination was conducted.

On examination, plastic tubing was found tightly stuck on her right hind limb at the level of tarsus creating a wound which had become septic. This could have been a piece of pipe which she accidentally stepped on. The pipe could have been in place for more than one month.

The pipe was immediately removed by cutting and the resultant wound cleaned with copious amount of water and debrided with Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then wiped clean with sterile swabs before Iodine being splashed and Oxytetracycline spray being applied topically.

Additionally, 900mgs Amoxicillin Antibiotic was given intramuscularly to counter sepsis.


The reversal was achieved by administration of 6mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride Intravenously via the milk vein. She woke up after three minutes to join the rest of the members of her group who were patiently waiting for her.




The unit would wish to thank all stakeholders who contributed in one way or another to the rescue and treatment of animals that required veterinary intervention during the month. Thanks also to all conservation partners who followed these animals before and after treatment and their effort for reporting their progress. The unit also acknowledges support accorded to it by The Minara foundation through David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust with whom their collaboration with Kenya wildlife service has seen many wild animals saved from unnecessary suffering.