On the 22nd of May 2015 an elephant well-known by the communities and the KWS was sighted by the local conservancy scouts in the Ngurumans who reported that the bull appeared to have a serious leg injury. The scouts immediately informed the Kenya Wildlife Service Warden at the Nguruman station who contacted the DSWT to arrange immediate veterinary intervention through the Sky Vet program.
KWS Veterinary Officer Fred Olian’ga, based at the KWS Nairobi HQ, was called upon to attend to the case and was promptly flown to the Nguruman area in southern Kenya to meet the team and vehicle monitoring the elephant on the ground.
Once on the ground the Sky Vet team travelled with the KWS scouts and KWS Warden to the area where the bull was slowly limping around having been wallowing in a muddy pool to sooth his pains. On initial inspection before intervention Dr Olian’ga could see the elephant was in good body condition. There was plenty of food and water within the area which was thick bush with acacia trees. The traumatic wounds could be seen on the right forelimb which was oozing pus.
The bull was then swiftly immobilised with darting done on foot using a Dan inject darting system. Within 10 minutes the elephant had fallen down in a safe place on his left side.Working quickly Dr Olian’ga and his team started work on the traumatic penetrating wounds found immediately above the carpal joint. The most serious wound was deep and penetrated the whole thickness of the skin where infection has set in and pus was copious.
The wound was probed for any presence of an arrow or spearhead yet no foreign body was recovered. Both wounds were then thoroughly cleaned and lavaged before antibiotics were given and green clay was used to heal and protect the wound from further infection. Having successfully completed the treatment the bull was then smoothly brought back from anaesthesia, Dr Olian’ga and all his helpers watching the elephant as he slowly got up and moved along into the bush.
The local scouts and conservancy team are monitoring the bull during this recovery period, reporting his condition and any changes or improvements to the KWS and DSWT should further intervention to required. Dr Olian’ga is confident this bull will make a full recovery as the wounds luckily didn’t affect any joints, also with so much water and vegetation available the bull should be able to quickly regain his strength.
This solitary bull is recognized by the KWS as he has been in conflict with the local community in the past having killed livestock. The bull’s current injury was highly suspected to have been caused by a spear due to human-wildlife conflict, yet as no foreign objects were found another possibility is that this bull might have had a serious fight with another elephant from the many herds which are currently residing within the area.