Veterinary Report On The Immobilization of Elephants in Marsabit


by Zahoor Kashmiri and Henrik Barner Rasmussen

Date Published

Considering the terrain and ground cover by forest and the road structure it was decided that the most practical and possible way to dart the animal in this area was on foot.The elephants were located either by car, air or through information from local people. Once the animal was located it was approached within few hundred metre by car then on foot and the working group was split into advance party which comprised of Henrik, myself and a ranger with a gun and the second group stayed about 100 meters away from the animal and they carried the water, drugs etc.

A lookout, on a higher ground (hill) was located and one person was placed on it, where possible to assist the spotter-plane. The remaining personnel remained with the car. Once the animal was down the second group in advance party and the car joined in.The spotter plane and the ground lookout were very useful. Also the involvement of the locals was invaluable. In most cases the disturbance to the animals was minimal. In my opinion it was very good team-work and enjoyable experience.

Due to the ground cover with thick bush we had 3 diverted darts. In all, the operations were satisfactory. For specific details on each operation see below.


Elephant ID: F56 Felista

Date: 04/12/2005 Area: Marsabit Lodge


General condition: Good

Molar: 5th molar, 5 lamella started to break, 6th emerging but not in use, est age 33 y


A group consisting of 14 elephants was spotted at Sorkorte Dika (Crater Lake at Marsabit Lodge). They were quite calm and walked around the lake approaching the lodge. The darting team (5persons) deployed from the lodge along SE edge. A medium aged female was selected and a dart was fired from a distance of 30m. Unfortunately the dart bounced of the female potentially affected by the wind. When the family unit (FU) re-emerged a second attempt was launched from the west side of the lake. The group was calm but aware. A medium sized female was selected and a dart was fired from a distance of 30m hitting the rump of the female. The group moved away south along the lake but quickly stopped in the open. The group was visible both from the darting team and the car. The target was lying on the side and the collar was fitted without problems. After revival drug was injected the team pulled back to a position 50 m from the female opposite the FU. The target got up without difficulties and rejoined the family shortly after. Two days later the group was seen at the same place appearing calm and used the salt lick at the lodge with people standing 10 m away. The group continued to use the area during the time we stayed at the lodge.

Elephant ID: M64 Shadrack

Date: 5/12/2005 Area: Karatina / Hula-Hula


General condition: Good, Wound on left part of the neck

Molars: 6th molar in full use8 lamella starting to wear on front, est age 43-45 y


A large male was spotted browsing 50m east of the main road going south from Marsabit between Karatina and Hula-Hula. After 5-10 min the bull turned to a good position and the dart was fired. The bull moved uphill and kept walking at a steady pace. The bull went down on a slope at a position between sternum and the side, leaning against the sloping ground. A large male collar was fitted and a wound on the side of the neck was cleaned and treated. Revival drug was injected after all measurements and samples where taken. The team moved to a raised ground opposite the target. The bull was seen two days later just uphill from the lodge standing along the road. It was calm and did not move away when the car passed 5m away.

Elephant ID: M60 Hula-Hula

Date: 06/12/2005 Area: Hula-Hula, Marsabit


General condition: Good

Molar: 1.5 lamella on 4th molar, 5th in use, Est age 29 years


A group of 4 larger males was reported by Teteya Daballen (A scout from Hula Hula village, daily reporting the occurrence and movements of the elephants on the western side) between Hula-Hula and the forest. The team deployed from the road and got a visual of the group browsing half way between the road and the forest. A ranger was deployed on a small hill as spotter since it was still too early for the plane to get airborne (first light). The darting team moved in and selected a larger male within the group standing in an area of semi dense bush. The dart was fired at a distance of 10m and the darting team pulled back. After a few minutes the target was heard and the team moved in. The target was lying down on the side and the collar was fitted. After revival drug was injected the team moved to a raised ground from the target. The target got up after a few attempts and the team moved away.

Elephant ID: F54 Kijiji

Date: 07/12/2005 Area: Kijiji


General condition: Good, tusk wound on right ear inflicted post darting by family

Molar: One molar in full use, est 5th molar, est age 30 years


The target FU were spotted from the air in a group of 14 on the same spot where M66 was darted on the previous day. The area consisted of semi dense low-medium high bush. After spending a couple of min at a distance of 20 m from the FU a dart was fired on a large female but the dart bounced of on a small branch. The FU moved off to the N away from the team and started moving in an arch towards W and SW presumably to get to a position upwind from the disturbance. The spotter ranger on the hill further followed the FU, which settled down 300 m from the car. The FU was resting together under small bushes in a star formation. The group appeared calm but watchful. After approx. 30min spend within 20-50 meters of the group, the group slightly regrouped and a dart was fired at what appeared to be the second largest female at a distance of 15m. After the target went down the darting team moved around to a position 50 m behind the car and the car moved in to press the FU away from the target. The target had obtained a tusk wound on the RT ear from one of the FU members. Several local herdsmen came to the scene and participated. After fitting the collar, obtaining measurements and treating the ear tusk-wound the revival drug was injected. The team moved to a position 50 m from the target opposite the waiting FU. After getting up, the target tested the collar and made attempts to remove the collar, before turning and moving towards the FU.

Elephant ID: F52 Paradise

Date: 6/12/2005 Area: Lake Paradise, Marsabit


General condition: Good, No Wound

Molars: One molar in full use 8 lamella est. to be 5th molar, Est age 30 y


The team got information about elephants at L Paradise from the KWS patrol team. After we arrived the elephants were already gone but we decided to look around. Approx 45 min later several a FU consisting of at least 17 + 10 individuals and one large male appeared from the northern and eastern forest edge. The darting team (6 persons) deployed from the eastern side of the crater and one backup car proceeded to the southern entrance of the crater on standby. After drinking at the lake the target FU moved towards the darting team along the edge of the forest. A medium size female passed the position of the darting team at a distance of 30 m. and the dart was fired hereafter the darting team pulled back to the forest. The target FU moved off quickly after the dart was fired walking into the forest edge just north. After the collar was fitted the revival drug was injected. The team pulled back to a position 50 m south of the target opposite the waiting family, which was standing on the forest edge. After getting up, the female stood for about 2 min before returning to the FU.

Elephant ID: M66 Jaldessa

Date: 06/12/2005 Area: Kijiji


General condition: Good, hart rate 8/min, very light, attempt to get up during operation

Molar: One molar est.5th in full use, no sign of 6th Est. age 30 years


Two bulls were spotted from the air just north of hill situated south east of Kijiji. The spotter plane stayed in the area on standby. The car drove within 400 m of the two bulls and a ranger was deployed on the hill just south of the bulls. At a distance of 30-40 meters the bulls became aware of the darting team, and started moving out. Kashmiri moved forward and darted one male on the rump at a distance of 30m. When confirmed down (both from spotter plane and from the hill) the darting team moved in and called in the car. The un-darted male was still with the target. After revival the bull was slowly got up, took the collar in the trunk and made several tugs at the collar and walked off.


Elephant ID: M68 Karare

Date: 8/12/2005 Area: Karare


General Condition: Good

Molar: 5th molar small stump, 6th molar in use est age 43 years


The target was alone when spotted walking east along south side of small hill just north of the road between Karare and Gof Bongole. The dart was fired at a distance of 15 m slightly above an area of semi dense bush with a few larger trees. The target was unaware of presence of the darting team and moved out at a quick walk but settled down to a slow walk, going south crossing the road. The target went down in an open and the darting team moved in. The target was lying on the L side. After fitting the collar and taking samples and measurements the revival drug was injected and the team awaited approx 50 m from the target. After repositioning himself the target got up after 3 attempts. When up the target moved slowly away southwards and the darting team left the place.