Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Very sick elephant bull treated cause of illness found 4 days later

Very sick elephant bull treated cause of illness found 4 days later
On Friday the 27th I received a call about sick elephant in the river by old gate entrance. I was on the boat on a sunset cruise so was able to respond rapidly. Elephant was in the water and appeared out of condition and lethargic. I was not moving very well. No obvious wounds were seen. I went back in evening by vehicle after informing BDF I was in park after dark and gave it a 10 cc antibiotic dart and a 10 cc antinflammatory dart. I have been criticized that these dosages are too small but in my experience I have seen various of these large animals respond to this dose. It saves the expense time and stress of sedating an animal which is always a risky business. For example the dose of M99 tranquilizer for an adult elephant is 12 mg , a buffalo which is much smaller takes 15 mg.
On Saturday the 28th I was on boat patrol and found the elephant only 100 meters away from previous evening still in the water. One of the darts was still in his backside. Many guides were going very close to elephant and aggravating it. He had only slightly improved in condition. He appeared not to be able to swallow water as it just poured out his mouth.  In 99% of cases, dart would have been pulled out by elephant or rubbed off on a bush. The dart seemed to be a great source of consternation for many upset tourists.Concerned citizens called me in a panic complaining that this was unsightly and upset the tourists. I had explained to them that this was an antibiotic dart and not a tranquilizing dart. If they were knowledgeable they would have known that a tranquilizer dart is only one cc and very small. I explained to them that if I removed the barb from the dart that it would just bounce out. In a large 10 cc dart it would only inject one third of the antibiotic and thus not receive the entire dose. There still seemed to be controversy raging which I do not at all comprehend.On Sunday 29th a head park official and I went to inspect the elephant. It charged us out of the water requiring us to make a run for it. It stood in one place for over 30 minutes shifting its weight from leg to leg. I suspected an intestinal obstruction but it was not bloated as one usually observes. It has a severe ocular white discharge which is evident in cases of infection. We decided to leave it for one more day.
On Monday 30th the elephant had moved about 5 kilometers to Sedudu pan were it was stationary at a waterhole. Many tourist vehicles were there once again aggravating it. We asked gate staff to tell guides to stay away but not many of them listened. I went to see head official and was in telephonic contact with head of research about issue. The elephant had deteriorated significantly and was now regurgitating vast amounts of water from his stomach. He was also becoming more aggressive as he attempted to charge us on a few occasions. It was strange that he did not charge directly and appeared to be blind.
With permission  I collected the PAC team on call and we went to observe elephant. It was obvious that he was in very bad condition as was not going to recover. Due to his aggressive nature I decided it’s best to euthanize him before he injures someone and to relive his suffering. We shot blanks into the air and he immediately retreated into the thick bush where he was no visible to tourists.
This was done efficiently with one .416 bullet to the brain.
On examination of carcass we found a bullet wound from a small caliber round that had entered at the base of his left tusk. As this had healed over there had been no evidence of outside trauma. He had obviously been shot for his large tusks and must have had his head in an elevated position as is their custom when under threat. It is my professional opinion that the bullet traveled up the root of the tusk and lodged itself in the part of the brain responsible for swallowing and vision hence exhibiting the strange symptoms that we had observed. He was obviously in extreme pain. No one in town apologized to me for the dart they had complained so much about.



bullet wound at base of tusk

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


DLN 170530333O7021
As I understand it will take about 3 months before it becomes active on line. In the interim with the kind support of Patrick Webb form NWHS donations can go thru my ally

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Baby Sable Antelope Rescued

 Baby Sable antelope rescued
Given yesterdays (4.14.11) frustrations, what happened that evening makes it all worth it. In the town about two hours away from Kasane (where Zeby came from) a farmer found a Sable Antelope that was separated from its mother. He tried to find the herd but had no luck so he was taking care of it. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks does not allow the general public to care for orphaned animals because everyone would be doing it (and who knows how the babies would be orphaned). So, it was decided that Clay (since he is a Veterinarian) would need to care for the orphan. So, we drove the 2 hours to get to the farm and actually found out that the original person caring for the baby moved it to another farm. Clay said it was 50 km in a different direction, it was a long way. Anyway, we found the baby Sable and I felt really bad to take him because the two children already bonded with him. They even put a bunny in the enclosure to keep him company. But we reassure them that when they come to Kasane, that they can visit whenever they wanted.. Sable Antelopes are such beautiful animals.

This is what Sabie will grow up to be

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rouge Elephant Shot Baby translocated

Rouge Elephant Shot Baby translocated

6/4/2011 Report of Incident 2 Elephants shot by PAC in Plateau Dr Clay Wilson
 I was called by parks on 2 occasions. One was a farmer in Panda that has a baby Roan antelope that he would like to raise. He thinks it was separated by his mother by lions in the fence. I advised him to try and find the herd and reintroduce him if possible. I talked to Chili and made him aware of situation.
In the afternoon I was called to assist in capture of a baby elephant. The story as I understand it is that elephants were in Plateau towns people live  and a Cow elephant charged a woman that was walking by. She dropped her handbag and elephant trampled it.
Problem animal control arrived on scene and went in to the bush were the elephant had ran to. Unfortunately the Cow charged out and attacked wardens that were on foot so they had no choice but to shoot her.
When I arrived on scene the mother elephant had already been butchered and there was a juvenile approximately 8 years old that a huge crowd of meat hungry villagers were just beginning to butcher. I have no idea how this second juvenile was killed. One report is that wardens in morning had hit it by mistake while shooting at the mother.
There was a baby elephant not 6 months old that witnessed the shooting of its mother and brother and was being chased by various citizens and children apparently all day long. The crowds of onlookers were out of hand and I’m surprised that no one was seriously injured. The police on scene were asked to disperse the crowd but they were not effective. It was truly a scene of chaos and illustrated the ignorance and non respect and appreciation of the wildlife that supports this community. The poor baby elephant was in such a state of panic and distress I’m surprised it did not expire from a heart attack.
Baby elephant anesthesia is very difficult, with all the experts in the field saying they have very high mortalities. I approximated the dose of M99 at 5 mg and after an hour long chase thru the bush and attempting to get the children that were just out of school out of the way, I managed to dart baby elephant.
It succumbed to anesthesia within 5 minutes. Concerned that I had given too much I gave it a one third dose of antidote the baby started to wake up and I was forced to sit on it to restrain it and give it some more M99. After another 5 mg given in 3 separate injections it finally was sedated enough to load on the back of parks land cruiser. I rode in back holding it down with 3 other wardens for the trip too Sedudu valley.
We unloaded and I reversed the sedation and elephant revived 100%.

I’m hoping that the proximity to water so it can drink and presence of other elephants coming to that pond that it will be able to be adopted by another herd. Otherwise its chances of survival are slim.
This was a very poor and sad expression of Kasane toward our wildlife heritage. I personally am disgusted

Baby Elephant Update April 7
We spent all day looking for baby elephant that we had to release because we don’t have a facility to keep such a needy animal. Hopefully soon we will be able to afford to build an orphanage. The official policy  of Parks right now is to leave animals in the bush for nature to take its course. In Chobe with 160 000 elephants this is unfortunately a common occurrence. With patience, education and by example we have managed to slowly change the mindset and the cooperation of relevant authorities to be able to rehabilitate injured animals for re-release into the wild. This takes a lot of funding, time and commitment. As many of you know CWR has been working very hard to attain these goals. Many of my FB friends have stepped up to bat to make this all possible.
As for the baby elephant released we have found no sign of him. We have scoured an area of over 5 kilometers all day today. There have been no vultures spotted that would indicate a death and the area where he was released has no lions at the moment that would predate him.
People that rehabilitate elephants know that its chances of survival are slim in this harsh environment with no mother to suckle milk.
I have to believe in my heart that a herd of elephants has adopted him. Many experts will disagree this to be possible. I have spent countless hours observing and mingling with elephants over the past 4 years. One thing that I do now is that they are loving, compassionate, intelligent family oriented creatures. Not unlike what a humans should be. I have seen many things in the wild that surprise me even after a lifetime of experience in close contact. This baby was strong with a will to live and was not injured (certainly emotionally traumatized) and unlike other places in Africa there are hundreds of mother elephants suckling and caring for their youngsters that were sure to come to the waterhole where it was released.
Elephants communicate and interact continuously. I’m not an expert but i would hope that a compassionate mother would have recognized its distress and taken him under her care. Often mothers will have a series of children 2 years apart that remain in the family group for life. I have often seen sub adults up to 6 years still suckle from mom and then allow its baby brother to suckle.
As in my experience these social creature will show many human emotions it is my hope that this baby may have got lucky. I have to believe this. I don’t think many human mothers would bypass a screaming baby dumped in a trash can?
I have often been told that something is not possible and that’s not the nature of things. That is my queue to make it possible and make it happen. This is my personal experience
If he did die it would be best in the majesty of the African bush that in the village where he was being persecuted.
In our search we came across a young bull with an extremely swollen hind leg. On binocular inspection it appears to have a gunshot wound. We were unable to approach it due to the vehicle being unable to traverse the thick bush we were in fast enough to dart it.
We will be searching for both elephants all weekend.
Until a proper facility can be funded and built to accommodate and care for these orphans CWR will continue to treat and heal all wildlife in distress to the best of our ability in the field and in our back yard.
Prayers said for baby elephants everywhere, may you dream with the angels.
Dr Clay
April 9 2011