Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit - July 2013

Summary In the July 2013, the ECA mobile veterinary unit responded to several cases of injured and sick animals


In the July 2013, the ECA mobile veterinary unit responded to several cases of injured and sick animals. Snares reported in two common zebras and an eland in Maralal conservancy were promptly attended to. In Solio ranch two white rhinos died from gunshot wounds during a poaching incident. Post mortem examination was performed in each of the two animals. In Meru national park, parasitic filariae continue to affect white rhino species. Two individuals were immobilized for treatment this month. An elephant showing emaciation was immobilized for treatment in Milgis, Ndoto mountains.

Injured common zebras in Maralal community conservancy


The senior warden Maralal reported that an eland and two zebras in Maralal community conservancy had snares on their limbs which required immediate veterinary attention. Close proximity of this conservancy to Maralal town has driven demand for poaching of wild animals in the area for bush meat.

The veterinarian in charge Meru MVU immobilized the zebras for removal of snares and wound treatment on 8th July 2013. An attempt to immobilize the eland was not successful due its long flight distance, rough terrain and thick bush.

Chemical immobilization

Standard immobilization procedure was followed.

For each of the zebras a single 3 millimeter Dan-Inject dart containing a combination Etorphine Hcl (M99®) 6 mg and Xylazine Hcl 80mg was used, darting was conducted from a vehicle.

To reverse the immobilized zebras from anesthesia after the procedure Diprenophine Hcl 24mg and Atipamezole Hcl 10mg was administered intravenously through the jugular vein.

Physical examination and treatment

Case # 1

This was a male adult zebra which had a plain wire snare on the pastern joint of left hind limb which had caused a deep wound with lameness and swelling.

For treatment we removed the snare, thoroughly washed the wound with water and chlorhexidine. Iodine and a topical oxytetracycline spray were applied.

Amoxycillin trihydrate LA 3000mg was administered intramuscularly to prevent systemic infection.

Case # 2

 This was a female adult zebra which showed lameness on the left front leg. Examination revealed an infected puncture wound caudally distal to the pastern joint.


  • Thorough cleaning with dilute hydrogen peroxide and iodine. Topical application of oxytetracycline spray
  • Amoxycillin trihydrate LA 3000mg was administered intramuscularly to prevent systemic infection.

Prognosis for full recovery is good. 

Post mortem examination of white rhino carcasses in Solio ranch

Background information

Two white rhinos were reported killed in Solio ranch following a poaching incident on 19th July 2013. Post mortem examination was performed on each of the two carcasses to document the cause of death and collect samples for forensic and genetic analysis.

Case # 1

Animal identification

Species: White rhino

Sex: Male

Age: adult

 Major findings

  • Rhino carcass was on right lateral recumbency (figure 1). Security warden at Solio reported that the front horn had been poached while the rear horn was found intact. The rear horn was excised for safe keeping at Aberdare national park.
  • Penetrating wounds caused by bullets into the cranium at the frontal bone and maxilla distal to the left ear.
  • Penetrating wound cranial to the left scapula, projectile recovered from the brachial muscles. The projectile was given to officer in charge rhino for ballistic tests (figure 2)

Cause of death

Traumatic head injuries caused by bullet

Case # 2

Species: White rhino

Sex: Male

Age: sub-adult

Major findings

  • Rhino carcass was on left lateral recumbency, the front horn was also poached but the rear horn was excised for safe keeping at Aberdare national park
  • Single penetrating wound caused by bullet into the cranium at the frontal bone

Cause of death

Traumatic head injury caused by bullet

Sick elephant in Milgis


On 19th July 2013 wildlife scouts from the Milgis trust reported a sick elephant bull in a remote location known as Ntasatei at the foot of Ndoto Mountains. The elephant was reported to have had little movements in the past two months and they suspected that it had an injury on the right front leg and a discharge from its eyes.

The elephant was immobilized for examination and treatment on 22nd July 2013 by the Meru veterinary team.

Chemical immobilization

Darting was done on foot after trekking 5 kilometers to the lugga where the elephant was found. Wildlife scouts in the area had tracked down the animal earlier therefore it was easy to locate.

A single 3cc Dan Inject dart containing Etorphine Hcl 18 mg with a 2.2 × 60 mm needle was used.  The dart was placed at the left gluteal muscles with an induction time of 8 minutes. The elephant moved a short distance before it fell on sternal recumbency.

On contact with the immobilized animal, its trunk was stretched to ensure patent airway. Because of high ambient temperatures, copious amount of water was sprinkled on the elephant’s ears to cool it.

After treatment, the animal was revived from anesthesia using Diprenophine Hcl 54mg injected intravenously through the superficial ear veins.

Examination and treatment

The elephant was emaciated (body score 2 on a scale of 1 – 5). Scouts reported its condition seemed to have improved in the past 3 days.

No excessive discharge was noted on the eyes.


  • 30 % Oxytetracycline 200 ml injected deep intramuscularly
  • Injection Multivitamin 200 ml injected deep intramuscularly

Prognosis for recovery is guarded.

Capture and treatment of sick white rhinos in Meru national park

Background information

The rhino monitoring team in Meru National Park reported that two white had expansive wounds which required veterinary attention. Both individuals were adult males known as Saidabao and Syembeni.

On 24th July 2013 the Meru veterinary team and veterinarians from KWS HQ immobilized Saidabao for examination, sample collection and treatment. The second animal could not be traced at the time for treatment due to the dense bush in the area.

Ernest also an adult male had an infected wound on the brisket was also captured for examination and treatment.

Chemical immobilization

Target animals were immobilized using Etorphine (M99®) 5mg with 10% Xylazine 80mg delivered in a single 1.5 milliliter DanInject dart with a 2.2 × 60 mm needle. Darting was done from a helicopter which also monitored darted animal and directed a team on the ground to the animal. The mobilized animal was stabilized using 1% Butorphanol tartate 5mg administered intravenously into superficial ear vein. The animal was then placed on sternal recumbency for examination and treatment.

Respiration rate and tissue oxygen perfusion were monitored physically and by a pulse oximeter attached to the ear respectively during the procedure.

After the procedure anesthesia was reversed using 5% Naltrexone 150mg and Atipamezole 10mg administered intravenously into the superficial ear vein.

Examination and treatment

Case # 1 – cutaneous filariasis

Circular wound caudodorsally on the gluteus 20cm in diameter. The lesion was superficial characterized by redness, erosive ulceration and crust formation. The edges of the lesion were serrated.

Treatment – topical and systemic

  • Thorough wash with water, dilute hydrogen peroxide and debridement of necrotic tissue. Tincture of Iodine soaked in gauze swabs was the applied
  • 1% Ivermectin 300mg administered subcutaneously
  • 20% Oxytetracycline 20000mg administered intramuscularly

Case # 2 – injured white rhino

Ernest, (white rhino, male, adult) had a puncture wound on the brisket. It was suspected to have been caused in territorial fights, approximately 10cm deep with pus. 

Rescue of an orphaned lesser kudu

A male lesser kudu, 3 weeks old was rescued by cattle herders in rapto village in Kinna after it had been abandoned by its mother for 2 days. The animal was examined and found to be in good health. It was fed overnight in Meru research center with dilute pasteurized bovine milk with added glucose and later transported to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage.

Examination of a sick pygmy hippo in Ol Jogi ranch

A male pygmy hippo in Ol Jogi orphanage was reported to be shivering and avoided water. Its appetite was reduced. Oral Diseptoprim boli and multivitamin powder in diet was recommended.

Report by: Bernard Rono