Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - July 2006

In the June report, one activity was inadvertently not reported

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In the June report, one activity was inadvertently not reported. This was of a lioness trapped at the KARI farm near Tsavo East for stock raiding. We immobilised it to enable treatment of some lacerations sustained in the trap. These were however not serious; they were topically treated and an antibiotic injection was given. Examination revealed that two of its canines were broken and other teeth worn out due to age.

The left eye had cataract and was blind.
We collared it in order to assist monitor its movements after release because we suspected it might try to walk back to the farm where several other lions have been trapped previously. It was released past Thabanguji in the Northern area almost 70 Km from the capture site. Within three weeks however, it had walked back to the farm and a decision to put it down was.

On the 12th of this month, we treated a female elephant in Amboseli with a spear wound on the lower left hind leg. The wound was slightly infected and the animal was walking with a slight limp. We received the report on the 11th when we travelled to Amboseli and arrived there in the afternoon only to find that the elephant with its two calves had entered into one of the swamps. We called off the operation after it became dark with the family still deep inside the swamp.

We found the family at the edge of the swamp the next day but when we tried to drive it further away to enable darting, the family escaped into a thicket where we could not pursue it. After waiting in vain for several hours for it to come out, we called rangers who flushed it out using blank cartridges.

We thereafter administered treatment successfully and rejoined it with its two calves.
Reports from the Elephant Research Team say they saw the elephant on the 30th fully recovered.

On the 14th, we were requested to assist establish the death of two elephants at Sobo and Balgunda areas in Tsavo East sighted during routine aerial patrols. We however found the carcasses were completely decomposed and only bones were scattered on the sites. The tusks in both were present.

The next three cases were on the 19th.

The first was of a three months elephant calf with a suspected arrow injury on left hind leg that was heavily infected. The calf was walking with a marked limp and pus could be seen discharging from far.
The family was very protective and could not leave it behind after we darted it. we had to dart the mother too in order to drive the rest of the family members away.
After treatment, both were revived simultaneously. The family was still being searched to assess progress at the time of preparing this report. The search will continue.

The other case on the 19th was of a male hyena with deep bite/fight wounds all over the body.

Parts of the pelvic bone and the lumbar vertebrae were fractured rendering it unable to support itself with the hindquarters. Bone fragments were sticking out of the bite wounds, which were also infected. Prognosis for recovery was poor and we euthanased it with intravenous Euthatal® after immobilising it with Etorphine and xylazine.

Next Voi Safari Lodge called after they sighted a bull with an arrowhead lodged on its right abdomen at their water hole. Unfortunately, this report arrived three hours after the sighting when the bull had already left the water hole. We searched for it in the neighbourhood and found it heading towards Irima area in the company of two other bulls and a family of five.

We immobilised it and administered treatment successfully.
The injury was infected but there was no abdominal penetration as the arrow entered obliquely.
The bull was sighted two days after treatment at the Lodge’s water hole.

The Unit assisted to move three waterbucks (a male and two females)

and six Oryx (two males and four females) donated by Bamburi’s Haller Park to Ndara ranch in Voi.
The Oryx are habituated and were driven through a crush into a waiting truck. They were very calm and no tranquillisation was required during transport to Ndara ranch about 150 Km away. The waterbucks are semi-habituated but they could not be captured like the Oryx. They were immobilised with Etorphine and xylazine, loaded into a transport truck and revived. Before the revival drugs were injected, each was given 120mg of Azaperone to calm them during transport. The animals arrived at the release site without any problems on the way. Bamburi has also given six elands to Ndara ranch. These will be moved at a latter date.

Lastly in July we were called to Salt Lick to have a look at a lion with an injury on the right hind leg caused by a snare.

We found the injury not serious to warrant intervention, only the top layer of the skin (Epithelium) was removed as the lion struggled to release itself from the snare. The rest of the skin layers were intact.
There was no snare. The lion could bear its full weight on the leg, which had a slight limp. No complications were expected to develop but the sanctuary management will monitor it.

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