Friday, March 29, 2019

Search and Rescue

In the past two months, Serena’s North clan has fallen prey to a string of bad luck in the form of snares. An animal that has been snared is usually very distressed, and in no small amount of danger, until the snare has been removed. We treat these instances very seriously. Warning – some of the photos below might be disturbing to sensitive readers.

The first snaring event was in February. A friend from home was visiting, and on her last game drive in the Mara we noticed 4 tour cars and a ranger near one of our hyenas. Hoping for a carcass or lion-hyena interaction, we rushed over only to find our dear Zimu – only 16 months old – with a snare deeply embedded in his neck. Wire snares of this sort are set by poachers in the hopes of catching an animal to eat, and Zimu was an unfortunate byproduct of this. After a quick meeting with the rangers, we all agreed that we needed to call the Mara vet, Dr. Limu, immediately. He was at Sekenani Gate, several hours away, so we set up to watch over Zimu until the rescue could begin.

Zimu's snare dragged 3m behind him as he walked.
And then he went missing.

We looked away for only a moment when suddenly Zimu was gone. With the vet team on their way, and the potential for Zimu to pull the snare tighter and risk further injury growing with every minute, we called camp for reinforcements and started a frantic search party. Three cars, 4 hyena researchers, 2 rangers, and 1 hour later we found Zimu resting under the exact same bush we had last seen him.
Zimu was left with a lovely green/yellow collar of antibiotic spray
The vet team arrived shortly thereafter and Zimu was quickly darted and his snare removed. It appears that the snare had been embedded in his neck for days, and the wound was severe. After a quick shot of antibiotics and a spray of antibiotic solution (the green spray pictured below), Zimu was up and running! We checked on him periodically for the rest of the week, and can happily say that Zimu is fully healed and healthy once more. Hyenas are incredibly resilient to injuries, and we’re all so thrilled that this dramatic event ended happily.
Zimu healing nicely after his rescue. Photo courtesy of Katherine Steinfield.

Only a few weeks later, we got another call. Katana, son of the Happy Zebra matriarch and now an immigrant male of North clan, was spotted with a snare around his neck. I raced out to search for him, alerting the rangers that we might have another rescue on our hands. Several hours later there was no sign of Katana, and although we continued to search this area for weeks, we couldn’t find him. Just as we were beginning to lose hope – Katana reappeared happy, healthy, and completely snare-free! It seems that the snare on Katana was thinner than the typical snare. This could be a snare meant for a bushbuck or hare. Luckily, this meant Katana was able to break free all on his own.

It's great when we get a reminder of how truly resilient our hyenas are.

No comments:

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science