The first week of July we had three cases in Tsavo West. The first were reports of four dead zebras, two near Mzima springs and two others near Kitani Severin Camp. The causes of the deaths were not known and we were called to go make a diagnosis. We found the two near Mzima springs having been scavenged completely. One of the two carcasses near Kitani was relatively fresh but the other was too decomposed and most of it had been scavenged. We conducted an autopsy on the first. The body condition was fair and organs had no lesions. The only significant findings were a haemorhagic enteritis involving most of the intestines and hundreds of Gasterophilus larvae (a parasitic fly) in the stomach. The larvae had caused considerable damage to the stomach wall. We suscepected the cause of death to be complications arising from the infestation. The parasitic fly spends part of its larval stage in the digestive tracts of herbivores. The larvae cause considerable swelling around the points of attachment. Heavy infestation result in chronic gastritis, loss of condition and in rare cases perforations and death. They may also lead to subserosal abseccess and death from peritonitis when the larvae infestation is high. We observed the same parasites in the gastro-intestinal contents of the second zebra near Kitani.
The other two cases involved arrow injuries in two elephant bulls near the Tsavo West park headquarters (Kamboyo). Both injuries were on the abdomen. The first was not serious and the infection was moderate. We expected it to heal without any complication.
There were two other cases at Voi Safari Lodge in Tsavo East both involving snares. The first was a young water buck with the snare loose around the neck.
Removing the snare from the waterbuck
Lastly was replacement of collars in three lions collared last year in Amboseli national park. Two of the collars had died and were no longer transmitting signals while reports said that the collar in the third had become tight and required readjustment. This was however found to be untrue but nevertheless, the lion was immobillised and the collar replaced. The table below summarises the details of the three lions.
Table 1: Lion re-collaring operation in Amboseli NP between 11- 13th July 2008
Lion 1(“Amy Jane”) Lion 2 (“Kip”) Lion 3 (“Ambogga”)
Sex Female Male Male
Age 6-7 years 4-5 years 4-5 years
Health status Very good Average Very good
Collar Status Died in Feb ’08 Allegedly tight Died in June ‘08
Observations In a group of 6 Alone Mating/in a group of 4
The collaring project aims at 1) raising awareness among the local people about lion movements and how to prevent livestock raiding, and at 2) analyzing the movement patterns of lions in the Amboseli ecosystem. Thus, adequate measures can be taken to mitigate the loss of livestock due to lion predation. The lions are being monitored for two years.
Report by Dr. David Ndeerh
The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyan Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten.