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 Stories from the Wild - Mara bull elephant with spear wound - 3/4/2011
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On Thursday 10th of February early in the morning a patrol unit in the Masai Mara National Reserve noticed a bull Elephant unusually quiet on the edge of Euclea/Croton macrostachys bushes.  Since it was early in the morning it was unusual to find an Elephant of that size standing quietly without browsing or fending for itself. Once their curiosity was aroused they decided to find out closely what was going on. From close quarters one could see some fluids reddish in color oozing out and on using binoculars a metallic end protruding from the left side of the Elephant could be seen. 

The big injured bull is darted  Close up of the embedded spear head, with just the shaft showing

At that point the senior warden in Masai Mara decided to give the Vet unit a call so that we can go and check the suspicious object. At 10.00 am in the morning the bull was at the same point standing still and resting its heavy tusks on a small anthill.
We came in and too noticed the object and it was clear this elephant was in great pain because even on disturbance it could hardly move. We therefore immediately decided to put it on anesthesia and check closely what the object was. The vet quickly prepared the immobilization drug and the animal was successfully darted. He decided to move away from where we darted him and walked 100mts away, stopped and rested himself on another anthill. Half an hour later he still looked strong and another dart was prepared and darted on the left hind muscle. 

Dominic darts the injured bull  The team wait patiently for the drugs to take effect

Shortly later, the Bull went down and and on examination we discovered it was the head of a spear embedded deep in the Elephants body. We struggled trying to remove it because the shaft was short but when success came everyone present was astonished when this 20cm long piece of sharp metal was pulled out of the poor Elephants body. We suspected a poacher was after this magnificent animals ivory and probably missed the thoracic cavity which houses the heart and fortunately the spear hit the stomach region which didn't spell immediate death but equally painful. He must have been shot elsewhere from a close range and walked to the Kissinger area which is a  Ten minutes drive from our camp and probably an area where he felt his rescuers would easily find him and alleviate his pain.

The drugs begin to make him sleepy, but still he resists  He finally succumbs to the drugs and crumples to the ground

Dr. Dominic Mjele removes the spear head  What comes out -

The wound was well cleaned and enough amounts of injectable antibiotics used to cushion this Elephant from opportunistic bacterial infections. After all was done he was administered with an antidote and we were all overjoyed when he stood up by himself and as if to salute us he raised up his trunk for a few moments and quietly walked away.
To this and other elephants that owe their survival to the Mara Vet unit, all we can say is a big thumbs up to all our donors for supporting us to accomplish this important work and wish them our sincere best wishes.
Micheni Felix
Mara Vet Unit

Further treatment  

And back to his feet - hopefully to make a full recovery.


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