An Arrowed Bull Rounds Out a Trifecta of Field Ops

Published on the 25th of November, 2022

Our fixed-wing pilot began his week with an aerial patrol. Surveying the Tsavo East / Kulalu Ranch boundary, he was treated to the magnificent sight of 280 elephants fanned out below. Many parts of the landscape are finally starting to get rain, and wildlife are flocking to the newly green areas.

Huge numbers of elephants have been spotted in freshly lush areas

Among a herd of 30 bulls, our pilot spotted a bull with a telltale wound on his side

As he enjoyed the spectacle, our pilot was also in a state of hyper-vigilance. Eyes in the skies are uniquely positioned to identify signs of trouble that would be invisible from a ground perspective. Scanning a group of 30 bulls, he spotted a bull with a mysterious protuberance on his side, about the size of a tennis ball. To the untrained eye, it might have just looked like a bump, but he immediately recognised it was an arrow wound.

Dr Limo and the SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit were flown to the scene

The pilot managed to separate the bull from his friends, so he could be darted

He shot some photos of the injury and sent them along to Dr Limo of the KWS/SWT Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit. Dr Limo decided intervention was necessary, so our helicopter picked him up from Voi and flew him to the scene.

The patient was a handsome bull in his prime

The wound was infected, but it had not caused irreversible damage

Fortunately, the treatment was straightforward. After darting the patient, the team was able to investigate the arrow wound. Although it was an old injury, it had gotten quite infected. They drained all the puss, cleaned the area, and administered antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to expedite healing. The anaesthetic was reversed and the bull was soon back on his feet, off to join the great elephant gathering taking place on Kulalu.

With treatment complete, the bull was ready to be revived

He slowly walked off to reunite with his friends

They say things come in threes, and the past week has certainly brought a trio of unique field emergencies for our fixed-wing pilot! On Sunday, he helped create an emergency exit for two giraffes who were stuck in a trench — and conducted a surprise orphan rescue in the process. The following day, 21st November, this bull’s treatment took place. Then, on Tuesday, he joined a search party to find a little boy who had gotten lost in the wilderness overnight.

This rounded out a trifecta of unique operations for our pilot, beginning with surprising rescue mission

And ending with a harrowing search for a toddler who had gotten lost overnight

All three missions were completed successfully — and these are just the experiences of one team member, among a myriad of SWT stories unfolding across Kenya on a daily basis. Be it rescuing wildlife big and small, treating a tusked friend, or even searching for a lost child, your support makes these stories possible, allowing us to make a difference each and every day.

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