We started the activities for July on 2nd when we moved four orphans from the Nairobi nursery to Ithumba in the northern part of Tsavo East. They were transported in two trucks each carrying two animals. They had been trained to feed inside the trucks for several days before the movement and required no drugs during loading. The movement was smooth with no incidents.
I then attended a workshop in Mole National Park in Ghana between 9th and 20th July. The park is located in the Tamale region of North-west Ghana about 800 Km from Accra. The participants comprised of wildlife veterinarians, epidemiologists and ecologists from East, Central and West Africa. The main objective of the workshop was to exchange knowledge on the monitoring and surveillance of important diseases in wildlife that impact on human, livestock and the economy. The most important of these diseases is rinderpest which continues to impact negatively on the livestock sector especially in the Eastern part of Africa where the disease still persists. Wildlife particularly buffaloes as well as warthogs, Kudus, Elands and Giraffes are used to indicate the status of the disease in an ecosystem. The participants also exchanged techniques on wildlife capture and sampling. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is a key stakeholder in the eradication program of rinderpest due to the high interaction of wildlife and livestock in many parks, reserves and wildlife dispersal areas particularly in the Tsavo and Meru ecosystems where wildlife have tested positive in recent years. The presence of KWS was therefore critical especially in discussions relating to the surveillance missions to be undertaken in the Kenya-Somalia ecosystem in 2005-06 to enable Kenya apply for the infection free status as per the internationally set regulations and guidelines (OIE pathway). The workshop was organised by the Pan-African Control of Epizootics (PACE) under the auspices of the African Union’s Inter-African Bureau for Animal Research (AU-IBAR). Incidentally during this period, no cases were reported even from Amboseli where there has been many cases of spearing of elephants in the recent past.
On return from Ghana, we successfully removed a loose snare on the neck of a female giraffe at Kanderi in Tsavo East on the 22nd.
Next we treated a young calf and its mother that was first sighted in June at Tarhi Camp in Tsavo East but the family disappeared and was not found. It reappeared again on the 23rd but the report was delayed and by the time we received it the family was already gone. We searched many places during which we saw many family groups. We found it on the second day late in the evening. The calf had swollen lower joints in the right fore leg which was interfering with movement. It was however able to bear weight on the leg and keep pace with the other family members. The swelling was firm and affecting the flexibility of the joint. This was responsible for the pronounced limping. We did not get any discharges to show presence of infection when we aspirated and incised different areas of the swelling. The only external injury seen was a puncture wound about 2 inches deep just below the swelling. It was fresh with no infection and there seemed to be no relationship with the joint injury which was thought to have resulted from a sprain or small fracture at the joint. Initially before immobilisation we thought the injury was as a result of a wire snare but this was not to be.
The other case reported to the unit was that of a young male buffalo with a snare on the leg at Ngutuni Lodge on 26th. According to the report, it looked very and kept on running without stopping. The lodge manager believes that it had broken loose that morning and was trying to locate its herd. It was seen running towards the direction of large herd of 300-400 buffaloes about 2 Km from the lodge. We did not find it and it was extremely difficult to see it amongst the herd because the herd was in a thicket and was also easily excitable. The search will continue.
We also received the report of a purportedly injured elephant at Galdessa Camp in Tsavo East. To our disappointment however, we found the said injury to be a small swelling on the right side of the lower abdomen. It was not discharging contrary to the report and we considered it not necessary to intervene.
On the 29th we rescued a 12-14 year old female elephant that was stuck in mud at the Satao camp water hole. The camp staff found it in the morning and is believed that it got stuck the previous night. We found no injury after we pulled it out of the mud and was in excellent body condition.
And on the 30th, we were called to treat a bull elephant that was seen at Voi Safari Lodge limping from a swollen left hind leg.
In the course of our patrols this month, we encountered the bull with the long tusks treated at Kanderi in June. We believe it was the one from the long unmistakeable tusks. The injuries were observed to have healed completely.