Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit - August 2013

Summary This report describes the activities of the Meru MVU in August 2013


This report describes the activities of the Meru MVU in August 2013. This includes the capture and translocation of 11 eastern black rhinos from Lewa wildlife conservancy to a new black rhino sanctuary in Borana ranch, Laikipia. An injured female Grevys’ zebra was treated in Meru national park and two white rhino carcasses that had been killed by poachers in Solio ranch were examined to document the cause of death.

White rhino Post mortem report

Background information

The security officer in Solio ranch reported two white rhino carcasses on 28th August 2013. This followed a poaching incident the previous night. A post mortem examination was conducted on each carcass on 29th August to document the cause death.

Case # 1


White rhino




> 30 years


Solio ranch

Estimated date of death:

28th August 2013

Post mortem findings:

  • General carcass examination: Animal showed good body condition. Carcass was found lying on right lateral recumbency with both horns crudely excised. A single penetrating wound into the fifth (5th) intercostal space was found on the left flank.
  • Examination of internal organs: Massive hemorrhage in thoracic cavity. Penetrating wounds in the left apical lobes of the lung, the left atrium and right ventricle of the heart and the right apical lobe of the lung.
  • Incidental findings: a bullet projectile was retrieved in the muscles of the right forelimb caudal to the os humerus. The bullet seemed to exit through the third intercostal space. 

Case # 2


White rhino




6 years


Solio ranch

Estimated date of death:

28th August 2013

Reproductive status:

In calf (primi para)

Post mortem findings

  • General carcass examination: Animal showed good body condition. Carcass was found lying on left lateral recumbency with both horns excised. A single penetrating wound was found cranial to the scapula of the right forelimb.
  • Examination of internal organs: Hemorrhage in the thoracic cavity. Penetrating wound in the apical lobe of the right lung and the diaphragm. 

Fully formed fetus in late gestation (> 12 months) in the uterus

  • Incidental findings: bullet projectile was retrieved in the muscles around the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae dorsal to the right kidney.

Cause of death

In the two cases the cause of death may be summarized as circulatory failure secondary to internal hemorrhage from bullet injuries.

Injured Grevys’ zebra in Meru national park

A female Grevys’ zebra in Meru national park (MNP) showed lameness and wounds on the gluteus which required veterinary attention.

This zebra is one among eight remaining individuals that were re – introduced to MNP in an effort to establish a breeding population in this habitat. Grevy zebra species are currently listed as endangered by the IUCN/ SSC Equid specialist group.

Chemical immobilization

We used Etorphine Hcl 7mg and Xylazine 80mg in a 3cc Dan-Inject dart with a 2.0 × 40 mm needle. Darting was conducted by vehicle after a brief chase.

The dart was placed dorsally on the right flank into the muscles around the lumbar vertebrae. Induction time (down time) was 15 minutes. On contact with the animal, opticlox ointment was applied on the dart wound and eyes to prevent desiccation of the cornea.

Vital parameters including respiration and tissue perfusion were continuously monitored to ensure that the narcotized animal was stable.

After the procedure, Diprenophine 24 mg and Atipamezole 15mg were administered intravenously into the jugular vein to reverse the effects of etorphine and xylazine respectively.

Physical examination

The zebra showed leg carrying lameness on the right hind limb with swelling, lacerations and hemorrhage at the fetlock joint.

There were deep suppurative wounds on both gluteal muscles and a skin flap.

The wounds were thought to have been caused by an attempted attack by predators.


  • Wound debridement, excision of the skin flap and thorough wash with water. Povidone iodine was applied on the wounds
  • 20% Oxytetracycline 20 ml administered deep intramuscularly

Black rhino translocation to Borana ranch

The aim of this activity was to establish a new black rhino population in Borana rhino sanctuary, a privately owned wildlife sanctuary in Laikipia. Eleven eastern black rhinos were captured in Lewa wildlife conservancy (LWC) while ten individuals were captured in Lake Nakuru national park. The exercise was conducted on 26th to 31st August 2013.

Captured black rhinos were fitted with GSM/VHF transmitters in the horn for monitoring individuals in their new habitat. 

White rhino translocation to Ol Pejeta conservancy

This activity aimed to introduce two male white rhinos to the Northern white rhino boma in Ol Pejeta conservancy (OPC) to aid in mate competition and breeding. The two males were successfully darted in Lewa wildlife conservancy, loaded onto suitable crates, transported and released at OPC. 

Elephant calf in Mt. Kenya forest

The officer in charge, Ragati outpost reported that an elephant calf approximately 15 months old had been left behind by the herd in the forest near Karatina. Efforts to capture the elephant on 14th August 2013 were however unsuccessful due to thick forest and steep terrain. A search for the elephant in the subsequent two days could not be found. It is hoped that the elephant was able to rejoin its group.

Other clinical cases

  • An adult male colubus monkey was captured in Kiengu near Meru national park on 24th August 2013. The monkey had strayed from a nearby forest and may have been injured by people who chased it in an attempt to capture.Examination revealed paralysis of the hind limbs due to a spinal cord injury. Conservative treatment was advised by confining it in a cage and hand feeding. The animal died two days from complications suspected toxaemia due to retention of urine and feces.
  • On 20th August a female cheetah cub approximately three weeks old was rescued in Ukasi, Mwingi county by KWS rangers. The cub was rehydrated using a balanced Hartmanns solution 100 milliliters administered IV/ IM.

The cub was transported to the Nairobi animal orphanage for further management.

  • On 25th August visitors at the Elephant camp site in MNP reported a lion carcass. The park management requested a post mortem to determine the cause of death. The carcass was extensively decomposed and a P.M examination was not possible.


We would like to thank the David Sheldrick Wildlife trust for providing financial and logistical support to the mobile veterinary unit.

Report by: Bernard Rono