Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - April 2007

Four lame animals were reported in the reporting period

Four lame animals were reported in the reporting period. The four were in Tsavo East and were reported to be limping from unknown causes. The first was a lone male buffalo near Tahri camp. When we observed it, we found the left fore leg to be slightly lame but there was no manifestation of pain when the animal was walking away and even when running away after we disturbed it.

We could not see any swelling or injuries and we considered the condition to be minor to warrant any intervention.

The other was an elephant reported on the 24th by the resident pilot after he spotted it limping not very far from the same Tahri camp. He directed us to the site from the air as the area had dense bushes and not very accessible from the ground. When we found the nine-year-old elephant, we could not tell the nature of the problem from a distance because of the bushes but we could see it limping heavily from its left hind leg. We therefore decided to immobilise it for examination and diagnosis. This was accomplished on foot.

The lameness was diagnosed to be from an abnormally healed fracture of the mid left hind leg sustained long time ago. It too did not manifest any signs of pain when walking and it could bear its full weight on the leg.
There was nothing much that could be done to alleviate the lameness and the animal was revived. A similar condition in another elephant was reported on the 28th near Bachuma gate but this time the right hind leg was involved. We did not immobilise this second elephant.

Lastly we immobillised a female waterbuck at Ndara ranch for examination and treatment of the lameness of the left fore leg. This is one of the animals translocated to the ranch from Bamburi Haller Park (Lafarge ecosystems) last year. The condition had been reported several days before but the management was advised to observe and report if it persisted. The tentative diagnosis was a foreign object or abscess between the toes.

However, the condition aroused from neither of the suspected problems but was found to be due to the stiffness of the carpal joint from  an unknown cause. There was nothing much that could be done to alleviate the problem. The animal was revived after administering a systemic antibiotic.
Confinement was recommended until the lameness subsided.

Further to the above cases, I also attended a wildlife scientific conference between the 18th and 20th April in Nairobi. The theme of the conference was ‘Research Imperatives for Biodiversity Conservation and Management’.  I made a presentation on the impacts of rinderpest disease in wildlife and its surveillance in Kenya in the three critical ecosystems of Somali (North-eastern & eastern), Tsavo-Amboseli and Rift valley/Maasai. The areas where susceptible wildlife species were sampled in these ecosystems were those where wildlife interact highly with livestock, particularly the Somali livestock. The presentation entailed a review of veterinary data between 2000 and 2006.

The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten