Turkwel’s lion attack and subsequent treatment

Published on the 14th of August, 2018

In late July, Turkwel suffered a lion attack that necessitated treatment at our Ithumba Reintegration Unit.

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On the 24th of July, Mutara’s herd arrived at the stockades with clear evidence of Turkwel having had a lion leap on her back. She had nasty puncture wounds around her tail and hind legs where claws had obviously sunk in deep, but we were reassured at the time that her injuries did not appear overly alarming.

She was immediately placed into the stockades and her wounds were cleaned and treated; she immediately settled down and appeared to understand she was being helped as she put up no resistance as her old Keepers tended to her. Her herd of friends did not protest their friend being led into the stockades either, seeming to understand that this was a necessary process. Turkwel is nine years old and living an independent life, but this same pride which have been causing us great concern recently.

During the night, her wild-living herd came and slept outside the stockade she was in and it seems were very persuasive in their communications, because come morning it appeared the new arrangement did not suit our independent girl Turkwel, and she broke out of the electrical stockade to join her friends, heading off deep into the Park. Despite searching for her she was not sighted again until the 5th August. She and her herd arrived back to the stockades and the Keepers were extremely concerned by how infected her wounds had become. KWS Vet Dr. Poghon from the DSWT funded Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit was immediately flown to Ithumba by one of the DSWT pilots to operate on Turkwel.

The infection had compromised blood supply to her tail and that had to be amputated. Her wounds were cleaned and treated, and this time Turkwel seemed to understand the importance of remaining in the stockades at night, for her injuries to be treated daily. She has become dependent again, remaining close to our dependent baby herd throughout the day and obediently putting herself back into the stockades at night while she takes the time necessary to make a full recovery.