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Alleviating Elephant Suffering on Lewa

January 02, 2009

"Wildlife veterinary work is very challenging. But what keeps me going is the passion to help these magnificent animals." These are the words of Lewa's resident vet, Dr. Stephen Chege who is continually called upon to alleviate the suffering of ailing wild animals.

One such case was an adult male elephant that was reported on the 10th December by the Lewa rangers to be limping. His hind leg was clearly swollen. Stephen was immediately notified and rushed to attend to the animal.

Upon arrival, Stephen and his team observed the elephant from a distance. He knew that it required urgent intervention. The animal's body condition had started to deteriorate. This happens when animals are injured: their mobility is compromised and they don't get enough food or water. Elephants in particular need to move long distances in search of nutrients. Stephen knew that unless he helped the elephant, he would eventually die.

The elephant was darted to allow proper physical examination and treatment. Apart from the swollen left hind leg, Stephen found no other injuries. After a thorough examination, Stephen and his team saw some dead tissue on the sole. They made an incision and cleaned the wound. The animal was treated with antibiotics, and reversed from anaesthesia. As soon as he woke up, Stephen could see that the relief was instant: he was already walking with ease. Since then, the animal has been reported to be seen at Lewa. He has fully recovered.