Helping a Big Bull of Tsavo

Published on the 10th of April, 2024

Bulls are generally peaceful by nature, but all bets are off when the affections of a female are at stake.

This year has brought once-in-a-lifetime rains to Tsavo. The wild kingdom responds accordingly to times of bounty: Female elephants are in season and very receptive to breeding, and competition is high as bulls fight over the right to mate with them. These skirmishes often result in injuries, ranging from minor scrapes to more serious wounds.

During a routine patrol on 9th April 2024, our fixed-wing pilot spotted a wounded bull near Ngutuni Lodge in Tsavo East National Park. Noting swelling near the elephant’s genital area, he circled around and saw additional injuries on his back. All signs indicated that he had emerged worse for wear from a fight with another bull.

Fortunately, our SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit was positioned nearby, so a treatment could be mobilised that morning. While the team drove over from Voi, our fixed-wing pilot landed on the park road and met them at the scene. They found the patient in the company of four other bulls.

From there, the treatment was straightforward: The bull was darted from the vehicle and went down without incident. The wounds were becoming septic, but they were thoroughly cleaned and treated. Thanks to anti-inflammatories and long-acting antibiotics, they should heal quickly. KWS veterinarian Dr Limo is confident that he will make a complete recovery.

Back on his feet, the bull made a beeline for his boy band, who was waiting nearby. Bulls may fight over mating rights, but they also enjoy each other’s company enormously!

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