A Veterinary Tale of Opposites: Two Patients, Two Injuries, One Common Cause

Assisting a Bull and a Buffalo
The recent veterinary encounter had quite the contrast of patients last Sunday. On one hand, there was a male bull who had been seen wandering alone by KWS rangers. On the other hand, there was a female buffalo with a calf accompanying her. Both animals were harmed as a consequence of human activity, with the bull suffering from a wounded foot, while the buffalo had an injury around her neck. The incident occurred on March 27th, 2022, just south of Tsavo East National Park, following reports that the limping bull was spotted near a waterhole.

The bull was hobbling around with a noticeable limp caused by an injury to its foot. The following day, Wildlife Works organized a patrol to search for the elephant. However, as the chief veterinarian from the SWT/KWS Tsavo Vet Unit was on break and the Amboseli Unit was occupied in the field, we arranged for a vet to fly down from Nairobi. Meanwhile, our ground teams at Wildlife Works kept a close eye on the sick animal.

The use of aerial resources is highly beneficial in veterinary operations conducted in the field. When we met with the veterinarian at Bachuma Airstrip, our helicopter pilot was ready to assist. Employing aerial capabilities can provide a significant edge when dealing with elephants in need of treatment. The helicopter allows the vet to dart patients from above and then guide them to an open area for proper care. Our operation went smoothly, and within just a few minutes, the bull was under the effects of the anaesthetic.

According to the veterinarian, the bull’s foot injury seemed to be the result of human intervention. The wound was deep and had been caused by a sharp metallic object, possibly a spear or spike. We were lucky to detect the injury early, and there was no sign of infection. After the wound was cleaned, the vet provided long-lasting antibiotics. The bull left with a positive prognosis, but we will keep an eye on him.

Shortly after treating our previous patient, we were notified by KWS about a buffalo that had been caught in a snare. The animal was located in the southern part of Tsavo East, not too far from where we had just finished our first operation. We wasted no time and made our way directly to the site. Upon arrival, we found a courageous mother buffalo that was clearly struggling. The snare had been tightly wrapped around her neck for quite some time, which had taken a toll on her health. Adding to the complexity of the situation, she had a young calf with her.

Her neck was tightly entangled in the snare, resulting in excruciating agony. Once more, the veterinarian shot the patient with a dart from above while the ground crew began administering medical care. The helicopter prevented the buffalo’s enraged and disturbed baby from approaching. Following the removal of the snare, the group rejuvenated the buffalo and rejoined her with her offspring. Although her injury was severe, this therapy provided her the greatest chance of recuperation.

Although she had experienced a significant decline in her health, she is now on the road to recovery thanks to our efforts. Our team of Mobile Vet Units and Sky Vets work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of all animals and preserve their natural habitats. The success of these initiatives is a testament to our commitment towards this cause. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our generous supporters who enable us to carry out these life-saving operations.


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