Sky Vets Attends to a Speared Elephant in Northern Kenya

On the 3rd of July the DSWT received a report from Space for Giants and Loisaba Ranch in Laikipia about an elephant bull with a spear lodged in his head

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On the 3rd of July the DSWT received a report from Space for Giants and Loisaba Ranch in Laikipia about an elephant bull with a spear lodged in his head.  This is the second case of an elephant with a spear embedded in their head that Sky Vets has teated in the past week.  

Angela Sheldrick immediately coordinated from the DSWT HQ in Nairobi National Park to deploy the DSWT/KWS Sky Vet to attend to this emergency case. Kenya Wildlife Service Field Veterinarian Dr Bernard Rono, who is seconded to the DSWT Veterinary Unit based in Meru National Park, was taking his off duty at the time, but made himself available to fly up to ensure that this elephant bull was treated and the spear was removed, whilst the team on the ground kept a visual on the patient.  

  The Sky Vets team left Wilson Airport at around 10.30am arriving at the Loisaba airstrip an hour later.  Loisaba and a Space for Giants researcher provided a ground team and vehicle to assist with the search and treatment.  After a short drive it was evident that the darting would need to take place on foot due to extremely rough terrain, but also because the bull was spooked easily which inhibited getting close.   Dr. Rono together with a Loisaba scout walked in and finally got close enough to the elephant undetected in order to dart him.  After a successful shot the bull eventually slumped onto his haunches and the team moved in to ease him onto his side.

During this time the elephant stood up again briefly before falling fortunately on the correct side enabling easy access to the metal spear shaft.  Dr. Bernard Rono began pulling at the spear which was firmly lodged in the bull’s head, and everyone present was horrified to see how deep it had penertated.  Once the spear was removed there was some haemorraging from his trunk, but not as much as expected.  His wound was treated and long acting antibiotics were administered.  When the vet was satisfied with the completion of the treatment a revival antidote was administered and the team watched on proudly as he rose to his feet.  He appeared absolutely fine and slowly ambled off into the undergrowth.  A coloured cross had been sprayed on his back so that his movements can be monitored in the coming days.

  The DSWT Sky Vet initiative has been able to save numerous animals lives, but particularly elephants - offering timely emergency medical attention when it is needed most.  These are all wild animals which would be doomed to die without this incredibly successful program.  We thank all those involved in saving this elephant, from the Loisaba ground team, Space for Giants and Boskivic aircharters for their reduced charter rates, to Sam their pilot who seamlessly becomes one of the operating team once on the ground in these cases, and of course to our KWS seconded Vet Bernard Rono for making himself available at a moments notice.
  We feel sure that this beautiful young bull, with much of his life still to live will make a full recovery.

UPDATE FROM THE FIELD:  A report from Daniel, the Space for Giants Researcher based within western Laikipia who helped with the treatment, has confirmed that this bull is recovering remarkably well from his horrific injury having been sighted recently showing great signs of improvement.

                                                                Photo curtesy of Space for Giants