Mobile Vet Clinic Kenya
© The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Tsavo National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya (22,800 sq km). It is Kenya’s biggest elephant sanctuary and, unfortunately, that also makes it a prime location for poachers. The park saw the elephant population plummet from more than 60,000 in the early 1970s to fewer than 6,000 in the late 1980s.
The introduction of an international ivory trade ban in 1989 has helped to slowly revive Tsavo’s elephant population, but there has been an unprecedented rise in poaching across the African continent since 2009, putting enormous pressure on the species yet again.
FOUR PAWS mobile vet clinic
FOUR PAWS funds a mobile veterinary clinic, in partnership with David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The mobile unit is headed by Kenya Wildlife Services Field Veterinary Officer Dr. Jeremiah Poghon. Every month Dr. Poghon and his team travel 6,500 km around the park to treat injured wild animals. Over a year, his team rescues around 10,000 animals.
Drought and shortage of food greatly affects the animals. But equally dramatic is the increase of poaching incidents in this protected area. Since the attentive rangers have been doing an excellent job for years, poachers are now specialising in insidious snare traps and arrows in order to draw less attention. With the FOUR PAWS funded mobile clinic, Dr. Poghon and his team have been on a tireless mission to reach trapped elephants and other animals in time and many lives have been saved.
Dr. Poghon's team is in constant exchange with the gamekeepers of the bordering national parks. How quickly they can react to the sighting of a wounded animal is a life and death issue.
One morning, the team found a badly injured elephant bull near Kaluku area. He had a terrible arrow wound on the right thigh that was oozing pus – a sign that he had been attacked by poachers. Due to the prompt intervention of the vet team, the elephant was immediately treated. Now he is healthy and free to roam once again.
Dr. Poghon considers the rescue of an elephant bull the most emotional of his entire vet career. Rangers had succeeded in putting a group of poachers to flight in the dried out riverbed of the Voi, but they soon gave up hope on the badly hurt animal. When the veterinarians finally arrived, the pachyderm was in its death struggle, hit with five arrows and tied to a tree with a wire sling. But the elephant was to win its fight: the treatment of the wounds had taken precious hours and the tree made it impossible to lift the animal with the aid of a jeep, but in spite of these obstacles, the proud animal suddenly rose by itself. The team and the park rangers rejoiced, not only for the sake of the elephant himself, but because it symbolised the challenging future of the national parks.
Due to the vastness of the park, there are also lots of natural dangers that little calves need to face. Water holes often form in the park, either naturally during the rainy season, or when the elephants dig along the pipelines in search for water during the dry season. Tiny helpless calves get stuck in these holes without being able to free themselves. The mother ultimately has to abandon the calf in order to keep the rest of the herd safe, which leaves them scared and alone.
Elephants are the largest land animals in the world and can live for over 70 years. Their trunk, with more than 40,000 muscles in it, can sense the size, shape and temperature of an object.
FOUR PAWS needs your support to keep the mobile vet clinic up and running. Dr. Poghon’s team is in a constant need of fuel, medical equipment, antibiotics and anaesthetics – which regularly need to be re-stocked.
Please help us keep the mobile veterinary clinic equipped and in operation to save the lives of wild animals in Kenya.