Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - May 2007

Activities for May started on the 1st with the report of an elephant at Lumo sanctuary

Activities for May started on the 1st with the report of an elephant at Lumo sanctuary. The elephant aged about 5 years had a badly injured left fore leg and was in very poor body condition. It was alone near a water pan probably having failed to keep pace with its family. On immobilisation, we found the left humerus fractured and some bone fragments sticking out of a small opening on the anterior side. The injury was also heavily infected. We suspected the cause to have been a bullet that shattered the bone.

The prognosis for recovery was poor and the animal was put down to stop further suffering. We recovered the tusks and surrendered them in Tsavo East national park.

Our next activity was the following day when we were requested by the Senior Warden of Tsavo West national park to examine one of two lion cubs rescued at the boundary of the park and Luarenyi ranch nine days before and was being held at a private property, Ndolwa house, near Maktau.

The other cub was said to have died 4 days after the rescue. The Senior Warden was arranging to have the cub adopted by a suitable facility. We were shown pictures of the cubs during rescue and it was evident that the condition of the cub had improved since the rescue.

In late April, a lion in a pride of 14 that ranges around the Tsavo East park headquarters and across the Voi river in Ngutuni sanctuary was reported injured by a buffalo as they were hunting. The report said that the right fore leg was fractured and it could not move. We however did not find the pride that day as well as several days thereafter to confirm the report and assist the lion.  It reappeared at Ngutuni lodge on the 16th May and the management called to inform us. We observed that the lion was lame on the right foreleg but there was no visible external injury. Because the lion could slightly use the leg, we tentatively ruled out fracture but we immobillised it for examination and diagnosis of the problem.  

The only finding was a small firm swelling on the scapula where the lion must have been hit by the buffalo probably causing a chip fracture on the bone. Because the lion is part of a pride that ranges in an area with abundant prey species, the condition will resolve in due course. In the meantime, it will be monitored to assess the progress.

Between the 24th and 26th of May, I attended a retreat of the KWS Veterinary Department in Limuru. The theme of the retreat was to enhance performance and teamwork. We also came up with a four-year strategic plan for the department in line with that of KWS. During the retreat, I made a presentation on decentralisation of veterinary services from the KWS headquarters and the role Mobile Veterinary Clinics play in taking these services closer to critical conservation areas where they are needed most.

On return from the above retreat, we rescued a 3 months old lion cub on the 28th May near Maktau. The cub had fallen into an abandoned but empty underground water tank along the railway line to Taveta. The people who reported this incident said they found the cub inside the tank on the 26th of May but unfortunately, they forgot to report.

We retrieved the cub and took it to the Tsavo East research centre. It will be quarantined for a few days for observation before it is taken to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage. So far it is doing well.

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