The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit has covered several thousand kilometres since it's launch a couple of weeks ago as the team have been travelling through the northern and coastal territories, covering Meru National Park, Kora, Bisanadi and Mwingi National Reserves, Mount Kenya National Park as well as Shaba and Samburu and the private and community conservancies within the greater Laikipia ecosystem.
This week the team has successfully treated yet another patient, this time a Grevy’s zebra - one of the world’s endangered species. The largest of the three zebra species in the world, the Grevy’s zebra was named after the President of France, Jules Grévy, after he was given one as a gift by the Emperor of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1882. This regal species in comparison to the more common plains zebra is taller with thinner stripes, a white belly and large ‘mickey-mouse’ rounded ears. In the 1970s it is estimated there was a global population of around 15,000 animals, whilst in 2008 an updated survey revealed only 2,500 animals showing a devastating 80% decline in numbers over the past three decades. This decline has predominantly been a result of poaching and loss of habitat and natural resources within the Grevy’s zebra’s natural ranges, whilst recently there has been an additional decline in numbers in northern Kenya due to disease and drought.
The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit was requested by rangers from the Grevy Zebra Trust (GZT) in Laisamis in northern Kenya to attend to an injured Grevy’s zebra. On arrival after a long journey by road covering over 200kms, a local Samburu ‘moran’ (warrior) named Lparachoi Hargurah guided the veterinary team to the remote village of Naibei, which lies 60Km north west of Laisamis, where the team needed to camp for the night as they arrived too late to locate and treat the zebra.
The unit’s guide reported that there are more than 50 Grevy’s zebras in the area although the team only saw 5 during the time they spent on the case. Early the next morning the Meru Unit’s veterinary field officer Dr Rono and his capture team soon located the animal who was clearly suffering and unable to walk any distance, showing lameness and swelling on its right forelimb.
The zebra was residing within community land within the remote northern Naibei area, which is monitored by the scouts from the GZT. After a brief chase in the vehicle, as the zebra was unable to get away due to its injury, Dr Rono swiftly darted the patient on its left flank, waiting just over five minutes only the zebra finally went under and treatment could begin.
On closer inspection severe swelling was found on the right forelimb at the carpal joint with additional penetrating wounds as well as torn joint ligaments. The lacerations were suggestive of bites which may have been caused during territorial fights. Having cleaned and treated all the wounds and given the zebra the necessary medication the expectation of recovery is good though the joint may take some time to heal.
Without treatment from the Meru Vet Unit this zebra would not have survived, and as one of only approximately 2,500 individuals remaining in Kenya it was vital to save and successfully treat this rare species. Visit https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/is/donate_now.asp
and help us and the Kenya Wildlife Service in continuing to make a difference to the lives of wild animals by selecting ‘Mobile Veterinary Units’ from the dropdown menu and making a donation.