This past month has seen an increased trend in poaching throughout Kenya

This past month has seen an increased trend in poaching throughout Kenya. Working together with the Kenya Wildlife Service in the Tsavo Conservation Area as well as Amboseli, the Masai Mara and Northern Kenya, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's funded Veterinary Units have been hard at work trying to save some of these cases before they are lost forever.


Sadly for a magnificent tusker called Satao his injury proved fatal before anyone was aware he was in trouble. The KWS/DSWT Mobile Veterinary Unit worked hard on the 4th of May to save Satao’s friend, who was treated for bullet wounds while Satao looked on from a distance. On that day Satao was a picture of health and it is hard to imagine a month later he would be lost to the world forever just so that his ivory could find its way to the far side of the world, leaving Kenya robbed of an icon.


Kenya is fast losing its most valuable tourism asset through a thirst for ivory that will simply wipe out the elephant and rhino populations in this country if something dramatic is not done in time, and most importantly those responsible held accountable. 

While Satao’s death is a tragedy, his story sadly has been mirrored over and over again, with some elephants falling victim to the trade even without ivory. Little calves have been found riddled with bullet wounds, despite having virtually no ivory at all.  On May the 27th we received one of these calves rescued as an orphan of just two years old; his back leg broken from a bullet wound. Despite our best efforts to save him he died a couple of days later.


Throughout the month of May the KWS/DSWT team tried hard to save another beautiful bull in Tsavo West and on two separate occasions treating him for a bullet wound injury. The DSWT Aerial Surveillance Unit working together with KWS would fly over him regularly to check on him and visit on foot to ensure he was recovering. Tragically, he was one day found dead after finally succumbing to his wounds despite all the veterinary intervention.

Another old friend lost forever.

The modes of killing these elephants vary from bullets, to arrows, spears and snares, all of them painful, and sadly all of them effective. If Kenya is to remain with elephants in the future something dramatic has to be done today – it has quite simply reached crisis levels – and everyone needs to take notice.

Below is a summary of the elephant cases the KWS/DSWT Veterinary Units have worked on in the month of May alone, each of them special, each of them priceless.  Sadly we have more to report for the month of June.

  • 5/4/2014, Tsavo: Dakota area, Tsavo East

Elephant, Adult Male          

Bullet Wound: Lameness of the right hind limb with tiny penetrating wound suggesting gunshot

Successfully Treated: Wound was cleaned and long acting antibiotics were given

Prognosis good

  • 5/8/2014, Tsavo: Ngulia Valley, Tsavo West

Elephant, Adult Male

Bullet Wound: Limping with lameness of the front limb

Prognosis Poor: Due to cold extremities and possible interrupted blood supply

  • 5/14/2014, Amboseli: Serena Lodge Junction, Tsavo West

Elephant, Adult Male           

Bullet Wound: Penetrating wound to left forelimb

Successfully Treated: One week later, the elephant could use the four limbs and without much difficulty

  • 5/15/2014, Tsavo: Amaka Ranch

Elephant, Adult Female

Bullet Wound: Shots heard and responded to by security teams. Some elephants were already dead but this elephant was limping nearby with a broken left femoral bone

Poaching Death: Complete femoral bone fractures in adult elephants are untreatable in the wild. The elephant was euthanized and autopsy confirmed a direct bullet was the cause

  • 5/15/2014 Mara: Ol donyo Rinka

Elephant, Adult Male

Arrow Wound: Bobo is a collared elephant that raised concerns through GPS readings and was found to have several arrow injuries to the rump, thigh and flank

Successfully Treated: All wounds cleaned and treated

Prognosis Good

  • 5/18/2014, Tsavo: Amaka Ranch

Elephant, Sub Adult Male    

Bullet Wound: Gun shots heard on the night of the 17th, the bull was found the next morning with lameness caused by a fracture of the right femur

Poaching Death: Bull was euthanized and autopsy revealed a complete and complex fracture of the femur with massive muscle tears caused by broken bones. A bullet head was recovered

  • 5/18/2014, Meru: Meru National Park

Elephant, Sub Adult Male

Bullet Wound: Swollen right forelimb with deep penetrating wounds and more on trunk and hind limb

Prognosis Poor: He had a review on the 27th which showed little improvement but he is in good body condition

  • 5/19/2014, Tsavo: Jipe Area, Tsavo West

Elephant, Adult Male

Poaching Postmortem: A fresh carcass was found by KWS

Poaching Death: Autopsy revealed he was most likely shot in the head and death was sudden

  • 5/20/2014, Amboseli: Ngulia , Tsavo West

Elephant, Adult Male

Bullet Wound: An elephant with a penetrating wound to left forelimb - repeat treatment

Successfully Treated: Whole limb was swollen and skin around wound necrotic.

Prognosis Fair: Great signs of improvement were noted, but sadly early June he was found dead from the air despite two treatments.

  • 5/23/2014, Mara: Naboisho Conservancy

Elephant, Adult Male

Spear: Big bull with spear wounds to the left and right flank

Successfully Treated: Repeat treatment may be needed

  • 5/23/2014, Mara: Ol Donyo Rinka

Elephant, Adult Male

Poaching Postmortem: Both tusks intact but signs of attempted removal. Several penetrating wounds found

Poaching Death: One arrow head found inside the head. Elephant died from poisoned arrows

  • 5/27/2014, Meru: Meru National Park

Elephant, Sub Adult Male

Bullet Wound: Repeat Treatment for bullet wounds           

Prognosis Poor: Little improvement but he is in good body condition