Activities for May started on the 7th, soon after resumption from an off-duty, with a case of a bull elephant in Kuku group ranch. The ranch neighbours Kimana sanctuary and Imbirikani group ranch about 40Km from Amboseli national park. The bull had a massive injury on the left fore leg whose cause was difficult to determine. It was deep almost to the bone, infected and infested with maggots. Treatment was considered to be of little assistance as chances of recovery were slim. It was put down to stop further suffering and the tusks recovered.
The same time we received the above report, we also received that of a buffalo with a snare at Ziwani in Tsavo West. To enable us to attend to both cases, I was airlifted to Ziwani while the vet truck followed and connected with it at the Kimana sanctuary. We could however not find the buffalo, even by air, in the general area where it was last seen. Because the pilot had other engagements in Tsavo East, he airlifted and left me at Kimana airfield where a vehicle from Amboseli was waiting. Meanwhile, KWS rangers were requested to locate the buffalo and relay the report to Amboseli if they found it. We passed through Ziwani the following day on our way back to Voi and found the rangers searching for it. We joined them for about 2 hours and when there were no signs of it we left for Voi via Maktau.
Next we were called to assist in the capture of a buffalo on the 14th that had broken the fence and entered into the Tsavo East park headquarters and residential area. There were fears that it could injure members of staff. On immobilisation, we also found that it had an injury on the upper part of the neck possibly from a snare. This was treated and systemic antibiotics given. Enough personnel were called to help carry the buffalo to the other side of the fence about 50m from where it went down.
Kilanguni lodge in Tsavo West called on the 19th to rescue a buffalo calf aged about 2 weeks abandoned at a water hole near the hotel. It was rescued and transported to the Voi elephant stockade. It was given re-hydration fluids and cow’s milk as well as systemic antibiotics on rescue. It was taken by Taita Development Company (TDC) which was willing to raise and rehabilitate it.
On the 20th, we immobilised an elephant cow near Voi gate in Tsavo East which we thought had an arrow head lodged on the upper part of the left abdomen. It also looked weak and was walking very slowly which we thought resulted from the injury. The first dart got deflected by strong winds and landed on the base of the tail. Observation with a pair of binoculars revealed that it did not discharge the immobilisation drug prompting us to give a second dart. The elephant was so weak such that it did not react to the impacts of both darts. We however did not find any injury. It was just a small swelling which looked like it had an arrow on it. The cause of the weakness could not be determined and could probably have been internal. The animal was given a systemic antibiotic and revived.
And on the 22nd, we treated a bull elephant at Ngutuni in Tsavo East that had an arrow injury on the left hind leg that was making it limp heavily and drag the leg which was swollen.
On the 26th, Amboseli reported a rare condition of a bull elephant with abnormally overgrown left fore toenails which were interfering with movement. It was immobilised and the nails trimmed. However, this is thought to be a temporary remedy as they might re-grow. The sole tissue was also observed to be grown which prevented trimming the nails close to the base because of haemorrhage.
And on the 28th a report of a bull elephant with a wound at the underside of the neck with purulent discharge was reported from Sala area in Tsavo East. It was also said to have a wound on the left shoulder which we observed to be dry and not discharging. We however could not examine and establish its condition on immobilisation as the animal went down on this side and attempts to turn it over were unsuccessful. The animal was estimated to weigh about six tonnes and the vet truck could not manage. The injury on the underside of the neck was from a bullet, it was narrow and deep. It was cleaned and treated topically as well as a systemic long acting broad spectrum antibiotic given.
The last case for the month was the following day in the same Sala area. It was also a bull elephant whose trunk was also cut off at the tip and had a big wound on the medial side of the left fore leg.