Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - June 2008

Several clinical interventions were done in June

Several clinical interventions were done in June. This included the treatment of a spear injury on the left thigh in an elephant bull at Oldonyo Wuas in the Chyulu Hills. The intervention was done at the right time just when the infection was starting to set in. The wound was cleaned thoroughly and treated topically and systemic antibiotics administered. We expect the elephant to recover without any complications.

We also had an eight-month old elephant calf at Lake Jipe which we euthanased because of severe predatory attacks (possibly hyena) at the anal region. The injury was very extensive and heavily infected. The calf could not have survived without intensive reconstructive surgery and medical management and even then the prognosis would still have been guarded.

  The body condition was poor and patrol rangers encountered it alone at a watering point. We found it still alone the following day. Euthanasia was considered necessary to stop further suffering. This was achieved with 40ml of 20% Pentobarbital sodium (Euthatal®).

We also euthanased a seventeen-year old female elephant at Satao in Tsavo East that had a life threatening injury caused by a winch cable snare on the neck. The snare was very tight and deeply embedded all round the neck. There was an extensive and very deep injury particularly on the lower side of the neck.

Prognosis for recovery was poor and it was put down to stop further suffering. The tusks were recovered and surrendered to Tsavo East armoury.

From Tsavo East also we received the report of an eight-month- old elephant sighted in the company of a bull near Voi Safari Lodge. The bull would occasionally try to chase it away. Further observations were made for close to three hours for signs of any family group that could come looking for the calf before the decision to capture and take it to the elephant orphanage in Nairobi was made. 

For that entire period however, no family group was seen in the vicinity and capture was done when darkness started setting in. It was airlifted to the elephant orphanage the following day after a one night stay at the Voi elephant stockades. It is reported to have adapted well to the rehabilitation programme.

Another activity for the mobile unit was performing an autopsy in a dead waterbuck at Ndara ranch. The waterbuck was amongst those translocated to the ranch in 2006 from Bamburi’s Lafarge ecosystems and had given birth one week before it died. It developed puerperal purulent endometritis (inflammation of the uterus following parturition characterised by accumulation of pus) which was unnoticed by the keepers because the animal manifested no signs of illness including intermittent discharge of pus from the vulva which normally characterises this condition.

Both uterine horns were found to have accumulated thick white pus.  The cause of death was concluded to have been complications arising from the systemic response to the infection.

Other minor activities included reports of limping elephants at Ziwani in Tsavo West and Pipeline area in Tsavo East. We confirmed both elephants to be lame without any injuries or signs of pain. Both were able to bear full weight on the affected legs.

They might have sustained injuries long time ago which did not recover well resulting to abnormal gaits as they walk. Sightings of such lame elephants in the Tsavos are very common and have been reported in previous reports.
Some members of the Ziwani de-snaring team who accompanied us to Ziwani confirmed to us that they have consistently seen the bull elephant in that condition since December last year. No interventions were done.

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