Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit - September 2004

Elephant Cow with an Abnormally Grown Left Tusk The cow, a herd matriarch and estimated to be 35-40 years old, had an abnormally grown left tusk that was curved upwards and then backwards penetrating deeply into the upper jaw

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Elephant Cow with an Abnormally Grown Left Tusk The cow, a herd matriarch and estimated to be 35-40 years old, had an abnormally grown left tusk that was curved upwards and then backwards penetrating deeply into the upper jaw.

The herd was seen at Ndara plains within Tsavo East Park National during routine patrol and treatment was made promptly before the herd was lost. There are reports that the animal was seen several years ago but it got lost and had not been seen again since then. It was in profound distress for many years and the treatment must have been a great relieve. The tusk was cut several inches from the point of penetration and re-growth is not expected as the animal is already mature.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have appropriate tools for the work. We underestimated the degree of hardness and thought that a hack saw would cut it. Two of them broke and a dehorning wire snapped even before they made a dent leaving us with no alternative but to improvise with whatever other tools available. The wound was thereafter treated and an antibiotic administered. The herd had not been seen again at the time of preparing this report and efforts to look for it to establish how it is fairing are ongoing.

Injured Elephant bull at Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary This bull had multiple injuries some possibly inflicted by arrows, while the causes of others could not be determined. The wounds were not serious and were not affecting feeding and movement. Treatment was however considered to prevent spread of any infection that could arise if left untreated. It was in a rocky terrain that had dense bush and darting as well as subsequent follow up from a vehicle was not possible. This was therefore done on foot from a distance of about 40 metres while accompanied by a ranger with a heavy calibre rifle. The approach was slow from downwind and out of its sight. Darting elicited an alarm reaction and the elephant ran away. It was followed at a safe distance that could not induce further agitation that would make it run away. It went down after about seven minutes. The wounds were cleaned and treated and an antibiotic cover was given intramuscularly.

Snared Giraffe, elephant calf and two buffaloes at Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary These animals were treated on diverse dates this month. The giraffe was carrying a loose wire snare on the right hind leg,

while the one in the elephant calf (about 3 years old) had cut through the skin on the right fore leg. After the calf was immobilised, two cows (the mother and possibly the herd matriarch) refused to leave even when threatened by the crew using vehicles. We could not identify the mother between the two to also immobilise it and then chase away the matriarch once mother and calf were down. Both were therefore chased away but remained in the vicinity during treatment. Some people remained on the lookout for returning members of the herd. The herd quickly returned when the calf made the first sound after treatment was done and the revival drug administered.
The two buffaloes that were also treated at the Sanctuary had serious injuries arising from tight snares on the left fore leg in a 2 year old calf
and around the neck in a mature bull.

Rescue Operations i)Elephant Calf at Ziwani Swamp The calf (aged about 1½ years) was found at Ziwani swamp just next to the South-Eastern boundary of Tsavo West National Park. It had multiple bite wounds at different parts of the body either sustained from a lion or a hyena attack. It was herded out of the swamp and captured physically before it was sedated to allow examination and treatment of the wounds.

They were infected and one at the genital area was deep and infested with maggots. They were cleaned and treated locally and an antibiotic cover given. It was thereafter airlifted to the Nairobi nursery for rehabilitation.
It unfortunately went off feed and progressively became weaker the following day. It did not respond to resuscitation measures administered and all attempts to nurse it were not successful. It was euthanased later in the evening. ii)Elephant Calf at Taita Ranch This one was about 3 years old and had been seen wandering alone in the ranch. The unit was informed about it while treating an injured elephant bull reported herein. The calf was weak, emaciated and jaundiced, and offered little resistance when captured physically without medication. People who saw and reported it had no information on the whereabouts of its mother/family. It was rescued and taken to The Voi elephant orphanage where it is undergoing rehabilitation. It is slowly improving and it is just a matter of time before it regains weight.
iii)Rescue of an Elephant Calf at Bachuma The calf was reported by herdsmen who saw it fallen into a manhole along the Mzima water pipeline near Bachuma as they were watering their animals. The manhole lid was missing and calf probably fell as it tried reaching for fresh water. It was aged about 6 months and no elephants had been seen nearby. It could have fallen the previous night as we were informed that elephants come to water there during the night and avoid the day when people and their livestock frequent the water point all day. It was rescued and airlifted un-sedated to the Nairobi nursery where it is reported to have adapted very well. iii)Rescue of an Elephant Calf at Bachuma The calf was reported by herdsmen who saw it fallen into a manhole along the Mzima water pipeline near Bachuma as they were watering their animals. The manhole lid was missing and calf probably fell as it tried reaching for fresh water. It was aged about 6 months and no elephants had been seen nearby. It could have fallen the previous night as we were informed that elephants come to water there during the night and avoid the day when people and their livestock frequent the water point all day. It was rescued and airlifted un-sedated to the Nairobi nursery where it is reported to have adapted very well.
iv)Buffalo bull stuck in mud at pipeline area in Tsavo East National Park The buffalo got stuck while wallowing at a dry water hole along the Mzima water pipeline that passes through the Tsavo National Park. It was rescued and free released. It was very exhausted after hours of struggling and no chemical restraint was required for the exercise.

Zebra with Snare at Irima area within Tsavo East National Park The zebra had a trailing but loose wire snare around the neck. It was in a herd of over 30 other zebras at Irima near Voi Safari Lodge.

Elephant Bull with Swollen left hind leg at Taita Ranch The elephant was limping and dragging its left hind leg. Initially, an injury on the spoor was suspected as none could be seen on the other parts of the leg from a distance. Therefore, it was immobilised to enable a close and more detailed examination. Darting was done on foot due to thick vegetation cover that could not allow approach by vehicle. Once immobilised and examined however, no injury, not even a sign of it, was seen but the upper part of the leg was swollen from an undetermined cause which could possibly be an injury sustained long time ago. There was little assistance that could be given other than giving it an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory drug.

Snared Giraffe in Amboseli National Park The giraffe was ensnared around the neck and the medial hoof of the left hind leg by the same winch cable snare. Only a section of the skin was remaining holding the hoof in place, all the other tissues were cut. The hoof sloughed off as the snare was being removed but this is not a problem and the animal will be able to survive on one hoof. Unfortunately, we were unable to give complete treatment as the animal developed respiratory complications and regurgitation.

The respiration became very depressed and irregular despite administration of the antagonist drugs immediately the animal went down. This is a bad sign in a recumbent giraffe and therefore it was released before the injuries were properly cleaned rather than have it die from these complications. However, an antibiotic was administered to help clear the infection. With the wire out and the antibiotic that was given, the animal is expected to recover fully. Reports so far indicate that the giraffe is doing well.

Cases that did not require Veterinary intervention i)Lioness at Aruba in Tsavo East This lioness was reported at Aruba within Tsavo East National Park. It was in a pride of 5 other females and cubs. It had a laceration on the left hock joint area from a natural cause, possibly while hunting. The injury only involved the skin, was dry and was not affecting movement. Any intervention was considered to be of little assistance and unnecessary stress to the animal.

ii)Lame Elephant at Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary The bull elephant was lame on the right hind leg but there was no physical injury or swelling that was visible. It wasn’t manifesting any signs of pain and was able to put weight on the leg. It was able to ambulate and browse and was in good body condition. Immobilisation would have been of no assistance.

Progress of Some Animals Treated in August i)Odile; the OB Family Matriarch from Amboseli Odile is the elephant cow treated in August with multiple spear injuries. Two of the spears were still lodged on its head during treatment.

The family disappeared soon after but reappeared on 14th September. The injuries were reported to be healed and there were no signs of infection.
The family disappeared again the following day and has not been seen again. Efforts to look for it to further assess the progress are on going. Most elephant herds have moved out of the park towards Mt. Kilimanjaro where they are more difficult to find following the dry spell being experienced currently. The other cow from the same family also treated for spear injuries was reported to have recovered fully.