Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - January 2009

We reported back from the annual leave on 15th January 2009

We reported back from the annual leave on 15th January 2009. During our absence, veterinary emergencies were handled from Nairobi. During that period we maintained contact with the Tsavos in regard to veterinary activities. The main activity that was undertaken in December was the translocation of 10 giraffes, 35 Kongonis (Coke’s Hartebeests) and 4 Impalas from areas neighbouring the parks to Shimba Hills national reserve in an effort to improve the biodiversity of the reserve. There was also an impala that was treated for a snare on the leg at Satao in Tsavo East as well as an elephant with a snare around the neck at the same place that was not found. There were no cases from Tsavo West while one elephant was treated for spear injuries in Amboseli national park.

Two weeks after resumption to the end of January, we rescued a 6 months old elephant calf at Ziwani. The calf had multiple spear wounds at different parts of the body and had been captured by patrol rangers who found it alone and confined it in a house at Ziwani gate in Tsavo West. The wounds were treated before the calf was airlifted to Nairobi the following day after an overnight stay at the Voi elephant stockades. Subsequent treatments are ongoing in Nairobi for some of the wounds which have taken long to heal. The prognosis for recovery seems favourable.

A 15 months old elephant calf in the company of an adult female and another calf was sighted at Satao limping from a swollen left fore leg. The report was relayed to the unit and we found the three about a kilometre west of the Satao camp. Though there was no visible physical injury we decided to immobilise the calf for closer examination of the problem. This was achieved with 3 mg of Etorphine hydrochloride. Upon examination, we ruled out fracture which was initially suspected. The problem was on the elbow joint which was swollen probably following some sprain in some bad terrain. It was given Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory and analgesic drug and some antibiotics. The prognosis for recovery was favourable.

The search for the elephant carrying a snare reported at Satao in December has been done for at least three days now since we resumed. There has been no other sighting and the search will continue. We also visited Tsavo West to assess the probable cause of two hippos at Tsavo River near Ziwani. Several others were said to be in poor body conditions. However during our visit, we found all the hippos no where in sight and we suspected they had moved upstream in search of food and water. The river has very little water downstream. The area is also very dry for it received very little rains in November. The hippos were therefore forced to walk very long distances in search of food which had rendered some of them emaciated and weak. We suspect the two died from the effects of the drought. The carcasses were too decomposed and only fragmented bones and skin remained.

Report by: Dr. David Ndeereh

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