Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - April 2009

There were relatively fewer cases in April compared to the previous months probably due to the rains experienced in different parts of the areas covered by the unit

There were relatively fewer cases in April compared to the previous months probably due to the rains experienced in different parts of the areas covered by the unit. However, the rains were inadequate in most areas and were also poorly distributed with some areas not receiving any rains. Nevertheless, the incidences of animal injuries were low during the month just like in previous years. This is attributed to the fact that with forage and water being available in the protected areas, wildlife gets attracted from the community lands and other dispersal areas back into the parks thus reducing human-wildlife conflict cases as well as incidences of bush meat poaching. Also, animals become widely dispersed and those with injuries may be difficult to see.

There were two elephant cases at Ol Donyo Wuas in the Chyulu Hills. The first was an adult bull with a large ruptured penile abscess which had caused swelling of the ventral body line. The animal was walking with marked discomfort because of pain and the swelling. It was discharging lots of pus. The elephant was immobilised and the abscess cleaned and topically treated. The swelling was firm and much of the skin had sloughed off. Systemic antibiotics were also given intramuscularly. The swelling is now said to have subsided. The animal no longer walks with discomfort as it used to before the treatment. The wound is said to have dried up and no discharges are observed. The prognosis for recovery is good but the only complication expected would be the inability to extrude the penis due to adhesions that may occur.

The other elephant had an arrow head lodged at the base of the trunk but for two days it was never found. Different teams were dispatched to search in different areas while the vet team remained at the lodge water hole which was the only available watering point in the area following the dry spell being experienced. The search was abandoned after the two days but the elephant came to water two days after. Fortunately, the arrow head had come off and the injury seemed uninfected and intervention was considered not necessary. The two bulls are frequent visitors to the lodge waterhole.

On the 14th of April, we received the report of a young waterbuck at Haller Park in Bamburi Mombasa with a snare on the abaxial hoof of the left fore leg. Physical capture of the semi habituated animal had failed thus we were requested to assist. This was successfully done after immobilisation. The snare had not inflicted any injury.

The last case in April was the autopsy of a dead black rhino in Ngulia sanctuary. The carcass was over two days old and decomposition had started. The carcass was turned and observed externally for any physical injuries. None were found. The body condition looked poor. Both horns were present and were retrieved by the rhino monitoring team. The female rhino was aged above 26 years and is amongst the founder populations that were reintroduced into the sanctuary from Nairobi National Park in 1985. The carcass was opened by the internal organs were at an advanced stage of decomposition to determine any ante-mortem changes. We nevertheless think the animal died from natural causes. 

There have been no further sightings of the two elephants treated in early March in Amboseli. However and as was reported in the last report, the adult female made good progress after the treatment and crossed back to Tanzania in search of its family. The younger elephant deteriorated after the treatment and its fate as of now is not known.  The bull in Amboseli with the suspected arrow injury on the right abdomen that was not found towards the end of March has also has not been sighted again.

Report by: David Ndeereh

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