Treating Ulysses

Published on the 4th of July, 2016

On the 29th June the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) along with Big Life pilot Craig Millar sighted an injured elephant bull in Amboseli National Park

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On the 29th June the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) along with Big Life pilot Craig Millar sighted an injured elephant bull in Amboseli National Park. On closer examination they found this bull to be one known as Ulysses and he had a seeping spear wound high on the back of his left leg. It was too late to retrieve a vet that day but at the crack of dawn the next morning ATE ground teams went out to search and locate him for treatment. DSWT was then alerted to help assist with veterinary treatment and fortunately he was found very early and our DSWT pilot flew to collect KWS Vet Dr. Poghon, who heads the DSWT funded Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, from Tsavo River Gate in Tsavo West. Our pilot flew him to Amboseli to treat the bull in the absence of the DSWT Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit who were on their monthly leave.

Dr Poghon and the pilot were met at the airstrip by an employee of ATE who took them to where they had found Ulysses. Ulysses remained very calm as the teams approached him and stood in-situ once being darted, understanding help was at hand.  He eventually collapsed just over 20 minutes later.

The treatment was successful and although very little pus came out of the wound it was deep, and there is a chance that follow-up treatment will be required should the wound begin to swell. The cavity was cleaned well, administered with antibiotics and then packed with green clay to assist healing, and to keep infection at bay. Dr Poghon finished the procedure by giving Ulysses anti-inflammatory painkillers. The prognosis for a full recovery was very positive. After revival, Ulysses got to his feet and with a very telling backward glance, he ambled off in the direction of the swamp.

Since inception the DSWT has funded four veterinary units and a Sky Vet Unit; working in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service these teams have attended to over 1,800 elephants. In 2015 over 200 elephants were attended to and this year to date we have treated and saved 44 elephants among many other animals.

We thank Vier Pfoten, Alexa Renhan, Jorge Companc, the Minira Foundation, and Lori Price for helping fund our veterinary efforts.