Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - August 2012

Introduction The Month of August continues to experience a dry spell where forage and water continue to be scarce

Introduction The Month of August continues to experience a dry spell where forage and water continue to be scarce. Cases of arrow wounds and snares continue to dominate activities undertaken in the Month. Other activities carried out included Foot and Mouth disease surveillance in Buffaloes within Tsavo East and Herpes virus preliminary sampling in Elephants within the region. Buffalo Foot and Mouth disease surveillance, 1st 6th August FMD is a highly infectious viral disease of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, Buffaloes and other wild animals. Its characterized by fever and vesicles in the foot and on the muzzle and teats. Buffaloes are known reservoirs of FMD virus but rarely develop clinical disease. The surveillance was done in collaboration with Foot and Mouth laboratory based in Embakasi, Nairobi. A total of 33 Buffaloes of different ages and sexes were immobilized and sampled in Voi, Sala and Bachuma areas of Tsavo East.

The results of blood and serum tests will be used to understand the prevalence and genetic variation of FMD infections in Buffalo populations within Tsavo ecosystem.

Desnaring of a zebra in Ngutuni area of Tsavo East, 9th August. Areas of the Park boundary near the fence experience cases of snaring thought to be due to bush meat activities. This zebra that proved elusive on several occasions was finally desnared. Darting was done using 6 mgs of etorphine and 60 mgs of xylazine. The wounds were cleaned and antibiotics administered. It was reversed with Diprenorphine and Antisedan.

Desnaring of Two Elephant calves in Salt Lick Sarova, Tsavo West 14th August. Taita wildlife sanctuary is a focal point in conflict and poaching related incidences due to its strategic sitting as the only water point within the area. Elephants from the larger LUMO community conservancy and Tsavo West Park water here. The calves, a male and a female with snares on the leg and neck were darted using 4 mgs of etorphine, snare removed, wounds treated and reversed to rejoin their families.

Treatment of a female Elephant with an arrow wound in Dida Haria, Tsavo East, 16th August. The female Elephant was immobilized after an arrow head was observed on the side of the body. 16 mgs of etorphine was used to dart. She was pulled over after she fell on the wounded side. The arrow head was removed and the wounds cleaned and treated. After revival she rejoined her family which was nearby.

Treatment of wounded Male Elephant at Irima, Tsavo East, 16th August. The dry spell and diminished forage continue to impact on our Tsavo Elephants. The male elephant was immobilized, an arrow retrieved and wounds treated after being spotted with protruding arrow head on the right abdomen. Darting was by use of 17 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject system.

Investigation of Buffalo deaths in Bondeni area of Lamu, 17th August. Buffalo deaths occurred in Lamu area in Northern coast of Kenya along the Lamu-Kiunga road. Investigation was done and some of the points observed were deaths mostly in solitary males, some were stuck in the muddy dried up dam, extreme dehydration of a surviving bull and lack of any infections when sampled. The diagnosis arrived at was dehydration due to lack of watering points and salt toxicosis from drinking sea water.

Treatment of an injured Elephant bull in Lualenyi Tsavo West, 18th August. Lualenyi which forms part of the larger LUMO community conservancy is a large tract of land reserved for both wildlife and cattle ranching. Cases of insecurity are rampant in the area due to infiltration of poachers and bush meat hunters posing as herders. The large bull was sited with a big wound on the right hind limb. Darting was done using 18 mgs of etorphine alone.

A big wound on the right hind limb was cleaned but during treatment the Elephant developed respiration difficulties and despite intravenous injection of respiratory stimulators and physical resuscitation he finally succumbed.

Desnaring of an big tusk Snared Elephant cow in Tsavo East, 22 August The female matriarch with long tusks was spotted by tourists dragging a long wire snare and occasionally lifting it on the trunk to avoid stepping on it. She was immobilized using 16 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject system. The wire snare on the front limb was removed and due to the freshness of injury she was given a clean bill of health.

Treatment of an injured Lioness in Ngulia Tsavo West, 21st August. The lioness was spotted within Ngulia Rhino sanctuary injured alone having been left behind by the pride near a water hole. After several attempts she was finally darted and a tear wound near the groin was cleaned, disinfected and antibiotics and anti-inflammatories administered. She was taken to a temporary rescue centre nearby but she succumbed after two days.

Elephant Endotheliotrophic Herpes virus survey, 14th 24th August This is a viral disease of elephants that is self limiting in African Elephants but known to cause mortality in Asian elephants. A preliminary sampling was done within the Tsavo area especially on young Elephants with trunk nodules. A total of nine elephants were sampled opportunistically for the virus with the help of veterinary staff from Kenya Wildlife headquarters. The survey will culminate in a bigger research on this important Elephant infection.

Acknowledgements We sincerely thank our sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their great support to the unit and not forgetting the Kenya Wildlife Service. The unit treasures their continued support to save the endangered wildlife heritage.

Report by: Dr Jeremiah Poghon

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