Saving an old friend

Published on the 19th of April, 2020

A handsome Zebra stallion, with his bevy of two females and young foal, has made the SWT field headquarters his home, specifically our airstrip. He is a perplexing character given that he is extraordinarily tame for a wild Zebra, but not familiar enough to have been hand-raised either. Safe to say he has obviously lived his life close to humans and over the years has grown comfortable in their company.

Earlier this month, one of his mares was attacked by a lion, but managed to escape the ordeal with only some minor injuries, however, the experience deterred the family from lingering in the area and he and his ladies disappeared for around ten days, we think deeper into community lands.

When he returned on the 14th April it was a call for help. He arrived back on our airstrip with his wives in attendance and immediately walked up close to the men who were working on the erosion gullies caused by recent rains. He came close enough for them to see an arrow head embedded deep into his neck. The shaft had dropped away but clearly he remained in much discomfort. Taru Carr-Hartley wasted little time and flew down to Voi, a twenty minute flight, to collect Dr. Poghon who heads the Trust funded Tsavo Veterinary Unit, which we operate in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service, so that he could be brought to Kaluku to attend his injury.

Dr. Poghon was able to walk up to dart him and then waited on the side of the airstrip while the drug took effect. Once he was recumbent the operation began, and it proved to be a tricky procedure because while miraculously the arrow head had missed his jugular vein when penetrating, removing it required particular caution so as not to nick the artery from the underside with the sharp edges of the embedded arrow head. After approximately thirty minutes the large arrow was extracted safely and antibiotics and anti-inflammatories administered and finally the deep wound was packed with green clay to keep infection away. He was revived and soon got to his feet to find his wives waiting patiently close by. They had been watching proceedings knowing full well he was in friendly hands, and seemed remarkably unstressed by the proceedings.

Later he strolled down the airstrip looking for water and duly drank from a bucket which he has grown accustomed to doing. There is a waterhole not 200 meters away with fresh water, but still our friend prefers the personal touch! Thankfully we can report he has made a full recovery in the past days, however, we are left saddened that this beautiful animal who has such trust in humans was betrayed in the manner he was, but grateful that he was afforded a second chance thanks to Dr. Poghon's intervention. We hope he has learnt to remain in the vast protected safe areas around here and refrains from venturing into the community lands.