Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - May 2017

VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 2017 Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon Introduction The month of May was unexpectedly calm in the Tsavo ecosystem with few cases reported


Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon


The month of May was unexpectedly calm in the Tsavo ecosystem with few cases reported. Generally the expected May rains have failed and the drought effect will be more pronounced in the ecosystem before the start of the short rains expected later this year. The unit undertook an autopsy of a freshly dead elephant cow and a buffalo calf was rescued near Satao camp and taken to the Sheldricks Orphanage in Voi. Two problematic lions were fitted with collars in Kuku Ranch adjacent to Tsavo West National Park to reduce human wildlife conflict. Other activities included assisting the release of problematic lions captured in Ol Pejeta Conservancy into Tsavo West, release of Zebras and Impalas into the newly started Borabora farm in Diani and feed supplementation of 6 month old lion cubs that were emaciated after their mother was killed in conflict with humans. The vet also travelled to Malindi law courts to give evidence.


Date: 14th May 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: About 35 years

Location: Satao, Tsavo East


A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant cow that was found dead by the roadside near Satao in Tsavo East National Park with no visible external injuries and the tusks still intact. It was in sternal recumbency.


The carcass was lying down on sternal recumbency beside the road with a herd of elephants nearby. Extensive external examination revealed no external injuries. An autopsy was undertaken by first removing the skin to observe any penetrating wound under it but there was none. Incisions were made to observe the internal organs where lungs, heart, small intestines appeared normal. There was a distended and hardened part of the large colon that was initially confused with uterus. On opening there was a huge mass of hardened desiccated ingester that had blocked any further movement of food through the bowels leading to death.

Cause of death was impaction of colon.     


Date: 16th May 2017

Species: African Buffalo

Sex: Male

Age: 1 week old

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History and Rescue

A report was made by Satao camp of one Buffalo calf that was observed near Satao lodge, Tsavo East and seems to have been abandoned by the mother. The vet team rushed to the area to find the tiny calf alone near a water point with no herd nearby.  Examination revealed he was weak and must have gone without feeding for some time. The calf was rescued and taken to Voi DSWT Elephant stockade where it will be cared for.


Date: 23rd May 2017

Animal: Lion

Sex: Male and Female

Age: Adults

Location: Kuku ranch


Kuku Ranch is a Community Conservation Area bordering Tsavo West National Park and Chyulu National Park. Human predator conflict is high as the pastoralist community keep livestock as their main economic activity. There is an increase in livestock predation by carnivores in the ranch creating hostilities with the community. Discussion between the Park Warden, Community Representatives and the Vet Unit resolved to collar the problematic lions for easy monitoring to assist with conflict mitigation.

 Immobilization and collaring

The lions were immobilized using 300 mgs of Ketamine and 4 mgs of Meditomidine Hcl after responding to a calling station near one of the hotspots aided by night vision equipment. The collars were fitted with enough space to allow the lions to feed and move with ease. The lions were revived one and half hours later using 2.5 mgs Atipemazole Hcl and monitored until they moved away on their own. Further follow up reports indicate they are doing well with the satellite component sending signals.


Date: 31st May 2017

Species: Lion

Sex: Unknown

Age: 6 years

Place: Salt lick sanctuary, Tsavo


These 4 young lion cubs were spotted within the sanctuary appearing very emaciated and weak. Their mother had not been seen for several weeks and is thought to have been killed by herders in the neighbouring Lualenyi ranch. On examination the cubs looked emaciated, week and needed urgent rescue. Inquiries in Nairobi orphanage indicated that it was full with no additional space. Efforts were made to supplement them with beef until they mature or are adopted by a related pride in the area. DSWT has been supplementing the lions with beef on bone.

Other activities undertaken

  • The unit examined Elephant trophies brought in by KWS security personnel and produced an expert report on the same for prosecution purposes
  • The Vet testified in Malindi court in a case where suspects were arrested in possession of wildlife trophies
  • The unit assisted in escorting the capture unit to transport Zebras and Impalas to the newly created Borabora wildlife sanctuary in Diani, south coast
  • The unit also assisted with the release of lions captured in Ol Pejeta and released in Southern Tsavo west


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.