Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - August 2008

Most of the month of August was spent patrolling the parks to assess the general health status of the animals following the reduced incidents of animal injuries being reported to the Unit in the recent months

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Most of the month of August was spent patrolling the parks to assess the general health status of the animals following the reduced incidents of animal injuries being reported to the Unit in the recent months. The parks remained dry in most areas and different animal species are concentrated in the few watering points that are still remaining. Elephant was the most frequently sighted animal species.

The month had three cases of elephant injuries in Amboseli national park. One of the animals was injured with a spear on the left abdominal area. The injury was not serious and was slightly infected. It was estimated to be several days old when the elephant was sighted just outside the southern boundary at Kimana gate. It was in the company of six other bulls. It was cleaned and topically treated and systemic antibiotics administered. Reports say the animal has recovered fully.

The other was a 35 year old bull with a massively swollen entire right fore leg. It could hardly walk and was spending most of the time lying down. There was no physical injury that was visible but we suspected poisoned arrow made from a nail that is a common method of poisoning elephants in the Tsavos. This type of arrow has no hooks/barbs and is easily pulled out by the elephant upon impact leaving out a very tiny penetrating wound that closes soon after leaving no noticeable mark. Majority of animals injured by poisoned arrows do not survive. The traditional poisons are made from a concoction of herbs and there are no known antidotes. It was recommended that the animal be put down because the condition was beyond any assistance.

The third case was sighted when we were there attending to the above two elephants. It was outside the park in the community areas on the western side of the park close to the Tanzania border. It had an injury on the left fore leg from a poisoned nail arrow as described above. The leg was moderately swollen resulting to severe lameness. Antibiotics and a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drug (Dexamethasone) were administered systemically. The tiny penetrating wound was infused with an antibiotic ointment. There has been no more sighting of the elephant after this treatment. Prognosis was guarded.

We were requested to examine and determine the probable cause of death in a four-year- old elephant near Aruba. The carcass did not have visible physical injuries. It was however in an advanced stage of decomposition to do a post-mortem.

Lastly we treated a common duiker that was brought to the Unit by the Bura de-snaring team after it was rescued from a snare outside the Tsavo East national park at Ndome. It had bruises on the neck and legs which were not serious. An antibiotic spray and fly repellent as well as a systemic antibiotic were administered and the animal released with the Tsavo Research compound.