Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - June 2017

Published on the 12th of June, 2017

VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE 2017 Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon Introduction The month of June continued to experience a dry spell as the expected May-June rains did not arrive


Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon


The month of June continued to experience a dry spell as the expected May-June rains did not arrive. June cases included the euthanasia of a critically injured elephant calf and mother who were gravely injured after attacking villages near the park boundary in Tsavo East, a problem lioness was fitted with a satellite collar for monitoring in Selenkei Community Conservancy in Amboseli and a hippo orphan at the DSWT headquarters in Kaluku was treated for abdominal tympany/bloat but later succumbed and an autopsy undertaken. Other cases included an autopsy on an elephant cow that succumbed before help arrived and an arrow head with massive thoracic infection was observed, a lion and hyena poisoning case was investigated near the Dakota park boundary and an elephant bull was treated for a huge penetrating wound on the shoulder in Kuranze ranch. In other areas the vet examined several wildlife parts confiscated from suspected poachers to aid in prosecution and security dogs were administered with prophylactic anti-Trypanasomosis drugs.


Date: 5th June 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age:  Juvenile (3 Years)

Location: Park hqrs, Tsavo east


A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant cow that had broken outside of the park and entered the community area near Voi injuring a person. The KWS rangers who responded had to put the Elephant down after it injured another person and in the process shot the calf.

Immobilization and management

The calf was spotted in a small bush and a dart containing 6 mgs of Etorphine was prepared, however the drug did not discharge and another dart was prepared with the same dosage. The second dart discharged successfully and the calf went down after 6 minutes. Close examination revealed multiple gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and leg. It was loaded onto a vehicle and taken into the park where after close evaluation of the injuries a decision was made to euthanize the calf as the prognosis was very poor.


Date: 8th June

Species: Lioness

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Selenkei group ranch, Amboseli


The Selenkei group ranch is a community conservation area bordering Amboseli National Park and an important dispersal area for many wildlife species. Human predator conflict is high in the predominantly pastoralist community that keep livestock as their main economic activity. There is an increase in livestock predation by carnivores in the ranch creating hostilities with the community. Permission was sought by lion guardians for collaring of one lioness with satellite collar for monitoring and conflict mitigation.

Immobilization and collaring

The lioness were immobilized using 300 mgs of Ketamine and 4 mgs of Meditomidine Hcl after being tracked and found feeding on an elephant carcass. The collar was fitted with enough space to allow the lion to feed and move with ease. The lioness was revived one and half hours later using 2.5 mgs Atipemazole Hcl and monitored until she moved away on her own. Further follow up reports indicate she is doing well with the satellite component sending signals.


Date: 10th June 2017

Species: Hippo

Sex: Female

Age: 10 months years

Location: DSWT Hqrs Kaluku, Tsavo


This hippo calf was rescued from a dried up dam near Kiunga, Lamu in December 2016 during the serious drought that ravaged parts of Kenya. The hippo calf was taken to DSWT Kaluku field Headquarters where a pond and a house was prepared for it. Two months ago the calf developed intestinal problems which were treated and the hippo made a full recovery. On the 10th June, the hippo was reported to be bloated, unable to submerge in its pond and anorexic.

Examination and treatment

On close examination intestinal tympany/ bloat was diagnosed. Attempts to relieve the bloat proved difficult as the Hippo could not ingest any drugs critical in resolving the problem. Liquid paraffin was administered per recta and flunixine meglumine and long acting antibiotics administered parenterally.

The following day the hippo was reported dead. An autopsy was undertaken and intestinal torsion with subsequent massive haemorrhagic enteritis observed. The hippo literally suffocated due to pressure from the abdomen on the lungs.


Date: 21st June 2017

Species: Lions and Hyena

Sex: Unknown

Age: Adults

Location: Magram ranch Dakota, Tsavo East


A report was made of wildlife deaths in Magram ranch bordering Tsavo East National Park about 2 Kms from the park boundary. The area was visited and the cause of death was investigated.

 General examination

The carcasses were in an advanced state of decomposition and signs of predation evident. The two lion carcasses and one hyena carcass were lying not more than 50 metres apart with an old eaten Bovine carcass nearby. There was a cattle boma about 500 meters from the site of the deaths.

Autopsy exam

Due to the sudden deaths of the predators and the bovine carcass observed poisoning was suspected. The carcasses could not yield much samples for testing (ingester, liver, Kidney) for poison identification due to advanced autolysis and predation. Some intestinal pieces scattered around the carcasses were recovered and preserved and will be submitted to the government chemist for analysis.

Tentative cause of death

Poisoning by bovine carcass laced with poison


Date: 25th June 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age:  Adult (about 25 years)

Location: Galana Conservancy, Tsavo.


A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant cow that had fallen down along Galana River in Galana Conservancy adjacent to Tsavo East National Park. The team rushed to the area to find the cow already dead and an autopsy was undertaken to ascertain the cause of death.


The carcass was lying on the right flank with no injuries on the left exposed side. However, ventral oedema was seen on the lower abdomen and the carcass was in poor condition. The carcass was rolled over to expose the right flank and there was a penetrating wound to the right chest area with pus oozing out. The penetrating chest wound went deep into the right lung area with massive suppurative inflammation of the right lung. An arrow head was recovered among the dead pulmonary tissues. Cause of death was by arrow shot with accompanying infection.


Date: 29th June 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: About 35 years

Location: Kuranze ranch, Tsavo


This elephant bull was spotted in Kuranze ranch by KWS security teams with significant lameness of the front left limb but no obvious injuries. The Vet team rushed to attend to the case. After searching for about 10 minutes the elephant was spotted in small bush.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a Dan-Inject dart fired from a Dan-Inject dart gun. The first dart did not discharge and after 20 minutes another dart was prepared with the same dosage. The second dart discharged and it took 7 minutes for him to go down on lateral recumbence.

Examination revealed a fresh deep penetrating wound caused by a large sharp object to the shoulder between the shoulder blades. The necrotic tissue was removed and the pus was drained from the wound. The wound was then cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were applied before a final cover of green clay was used to cover the wound.

An intravenous administration of 100 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 200 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.   

Reversal and Prognosis 

The anaesthetic was reversed by administration of Naltrexone Hcl 50 mgs. He was assisted to his feet and he walked away calmly. Prognosis is guarded.

Other activities undertaken

  • The unit examined Giraffe and Buffalo carcass parts from arrested bush meat poachers brought in by KWS security personnel and produced an expert report on the same to aid in prosecution of the offenders .


The unit acknowledges the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their immense financial contribution to the unit.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo conservation area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their support.