Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit - August 2014

Summary: This report describes the activities of Meru veterinary unit in August 2014


This report describes the activities of Meru veterinary unit in August 2014. Northern Kenya continues to experience a prolonged dry season resulting in scarcity of pastures for both wildlife and livestock. Wildlife dispersal areas in the region have also been intruded by pastoralists in search of water and pasture for their livestock resulting in increased human wildlife conflict incidences.  Among the cases attended during this period were an injured juvenile black rhino in Ol Pejeta conservancy, injured elephants in Meru national park and grevys’ zebra in a conservancy in Samburu.

Case #1 Desnaring a giraffe:

Date: 8th August 2014

Species: Reticulated giraffe

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Elsas Kopje, Meru national park


An adult giraffe with a loose wire snare around its neck was reported by a DSWT desnaring team in Meru national park who tracked its movements.


It was immobilized to remove the snare on the 8th of August. The giraffe was found in a group of 8 animals which looked agitated when approached by vehicle. To immobilize the giraffe we used a combination of Etorphine Hcl 12mg and Xylazine Hcl 40mg in a single 1.5 cc DanInject dart. Darting was done from the vehicle after a brief chase. Ten minutes after darting it was roped down to lateral recumbency.

A wire snare which hung loosely around its neck was quickly removed. 

Reversal and Treatment:

Reversal drugs consisting of Diprenophine Hcl 36mg and Atipamesole Hcl 5mg was administered intravenously through the jugular vein. After a brief struggle the giraffe was assisted to standing position using ropes.

Case #2 Treatment of an elephant:

Date: 14th August 2014

Species: Elephant 

Sex: Male

Age: 3 years old

Location: Meru national park 


Tour guides from Elsas Kopje saw this animal during a routine game drive and requested the Meru MVU to attend to it. The three year old elephant suffered a big wound with pus on its right hind limb extending from the rump to the knee. He was immobilized for examination and treatment on 14th August.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

The injured elephant was located in a herd of 12 elephants in a thicket near the Murera river. We waited for a few minutes for the herd to move to an open area for darting. Etorphine Hcl 3mg was used to immobilize this animal that fell onto left lateral recumbency after 3 minutes. The herd was then driven away by a vehicle. Examination showed an expansive degloving wound suspected to have been caused in a predator attack by lions. This was an old wound showing early signs of healing.  The wound was cleaned with water and soap and povidone iodine was applied. Green clay was also applied. Betamox trihydrate 30 milliliter was injected intramuscularly to prevent overwhelming systemic infection. 


We expect this animal to make a complete recovery albeit slowly due to extent of this injury. A follow up treatment will be planned in September. 

Case #3 Treatment of an elephant:

Date: 18th August 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Bisanadi national reserve


This elephant had been treated 4 weeks earlier for a stab wound on its flank. On 18th August the animal was reported to have crossed over to Bisanadi national reserve and was exuding pus from the wound. It was immobilized for a review of its progress.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

Etorphine hydrochloride 16mg was used in a 1.5 cc DanInject dart. Following darting the elephant remained calm and fell onto left lateral recumbency after five minutes. There was a deep dorso-ventral suppurative stab wound into the right flank muscles caused by a sharp object. The wound which was deep on probing with a forceps showed signs of healing, pus exuding from the wound had also reduced considerably compared to the last treatment. For treatment hydrogen peroxide was used to debride the wound and later povidone iodine was applied. Betamox trihydrate was then administered intramuscularly.


This elephant is on its way to recovery; its body condition seemed to have improved considerably from the last treatment. 

Case #4: Treatment of a juvenile black rhino Date:

Date: 21st August 2014

Species: Black rhino

Sex: Male

Age: 20 months old

Location: Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC)

GPS coordinates: 37 N 0270884 UTM 0006577


This black rhino was reported to have shown lameness and swelling at the shoulder on the right forelimb by the rhino monitoring team at OPC on 21st August. The 20 month old calf was lagging behind its mother and it was feared that it could be attacked by predators.  We immobilized the calf on 24th August to examine the cause of lameness and administer treatment.

Procedure and findings:

The animal was darted on foot using Etorphine hydrochloride 2mg and Xylazine hydrochloride 30mg in a single 1.5cc DanInject dart with a 2.0 × 60mm plain needle. This dart was placed into the dorsal muscles at the left rump.  A subsequent dart was administered 30 minutes later when the first dart failed to discharge. Induction time was 3 minutes after the 2nd dart. Its mother was then driven away by a vehicle with rangers who kept watch from a distance while the veterinary team administered treatment.  Butorphanol hydrochloride 5mg was administered intravenously on contact with the immobilized animal to stimulate its cardiopulmonary function.  Examination showed swollen muscles of the scapula around the right forelimb. There was a puncture wound less than one (1) centimeter diameter at the cranial border of the shoulder. On probing the wound with a forceps it was found to have penetrated craniocaudally approximately 6 cm into the shoulder muscles.  No crepitus was felt on palpation of the limb.

Diagnosis and treatment: Puncture wound 1.    Wound debrided and lavaged with povidone iodine 2.    5% Flunixin Meglumine 30ml deep intramuscular 3.    Betamox trihydrate 60 ml to cover for secondary bacterial infection After treatment procedure, the animal was revived from anesthesia using Diprenophine Hcl 12mg and atipamezole 5mg injected through superficial ear veins.

Prognosis and recommendation:

A tentative cause of the wound is a bullet. 


For this case is guarded due to a risk of internal organ injury. We recommend intense monitoring and follow up treatment within 21 days to assess its recovery. 

Case #5 Treatment of an elephant:

Date: 24th August 2014 Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: El Karama Ranch, Laikipia


An elephant showing severe lameness and swelling on the left forelimb was reported by rangers in the El Karama ranch on 24th August. This elephant had been reported two weeks earlier but could not be located for treatment.

Immobilization, Examination and treatment:

Etorphine Hcl 18mg delivered in a 3cc DanInject dart was used to immobilize this animal. After 6 minutes it fell onto sternal recumbency so we pushed to lateral recumbency for further examination.  Examination showed a swollen elbow joint on the left forelimb with three infected wounds. The wounds may have been caused by bullets. Treatment entailed wound debridement with hydrogen peroxide and intramuscular administration of antimicrobials. After treatment Diprenophine Hcl 60mg was injected intravenously to reverse the effects of anesthesia.


Prognosis for this case is guarded. Gunshot injuries may result in bone fractures or subsequent infection of soft tissue around the joint which is difficult to treat. We advise close monitoring of this animal to assess its progress.

Case #6 Treatment of an injured Grevys’ zebra: 

Date: 27th August 2014 Species: Grevys’ zebra

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Kisima, Maralal

GPS coordinates: 37 N 024 3262 UTM 010 2416


The Grevys’ zebra was reported to have shown severe lameness on the left forelimb with little movement over a period of three days.  It was spotted by cattle herders in Kisima on 24th August who reported to the Grevy Zebra Trust field officers. We immobilized the zebra for treatment on 27th August.

Procedure and findings:

The animal was easily located in an open grassland community grazing area in an area called Kisima in Maralal.  It was darted on foot using Etorphine hydrochloride 7mg and Xylazine hydrochloride 80mg in a single 1.5cc DanInject dart with a 2.0 × 40mm plain needle. This dart was placed into the gluteal muscles on the right hind limb. After 5 minutes the animal fell into sternal recumbency. Examination showed bruises around the nose. There were infected bite wounds on the dorsal muscles of the neck and wounds around the coronary band of left forelimb. Palpation of the foot showed an unstable fetlock and pastern joint with soft tissue injury and joint crepitus. These bite wounds may have been caused during territorial fights.

Treatment and outcome:

1.    Debridement of the wounds using hydrogen peroxide and application of povidone iodine 2.    Betamox trihydrate 60ml IM 3.    5% Flunixin Meglumine 30ml IM To revive the zebra Diprenophine Hcl 24mg and Atipamezole 10mg was injected intravenously through the jugular vein. On reversal from anesthesia this zebra stumbled and suffered a disarticulation of the pastern joint on the left forelimb. Due to the extent of this injury the animal was euthanized to relieve suffering.

Detusking an elephant:

An elephant bull in Meru national was detusked on 10th August. This elephant had been translocated from Laikipia one year prior and had a history of fence breaking and destroying crops in community farms bordering the western part of Meru national park. Elephant was darted from a helicopter using Etorphine hydrochloride 18mg in a 1.5cc dart delivered using a DanInject darting system. Induction time was 7 minutes after which he was positioned on lateral recumbency for the procedure. The full length of the tusk was measured from its tip to the point of skin contact and two thirds of the tusk was cut off using a power saw. A third of the tusk was left to ensure that the central nerve was not exposed. Petroleum jelly was applied to the cut surfaces of the tusks to prevent cracking and chipping.  Subsequently, the animals were revived with Diprenorphine hydrochloride 54mg administered intravenously through the ear vein. 

Case #7 Post mortem examination of a Grevys’ zebra carcass:

Date: 29th August 2014

Species: Grevys’ zebra

Sex: Female

Age: 6 months old

Location: Meibae Conservancy, Samburu


A juvenile grevys’ zebra was reported sick by the GZT scouts in Wamba on 18th August. It was lagging behind its group and did not move away when approached. We asked the scouts to keep watch while arrangements were made to attend to the zebra the following day. The zebra died at night, therefore a necropsy to determine the cause of death was done on 19th August.

Procedure and findings:

Carcass was positioned on dorsal recumbency and flayed to examine for subcutaneous changes. Internal organs were examined systematically for gross lesions. Significant findings: •    Carcass was decomposed due to high ambient temperature •    Poor body condition and severe dehydration •    Pale mucous membranes indicating anemia •    Enlarged spleen Tick borne diseases (TBD) is suspected as cause of death. 

Report by: Bernard Rono