THE MARA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
The veterinary activities in the Central Rift region and Masai Mara went on successfully during the month of September, 2008. Some of the cases attended to include treatment of elephants for various reasons in Masai Mara and rescue of a lion which was entangled with a snare in Mara conservancy. The veterinary unit still lacks a refrigerator for storing biological samples, lack of internet access and inadequate power supply are some of the challenges facing the vet unit in Mara.
Treatment of a black rhino in Ol-pejeta rhino conservancy
The management of Ol-pejeta ranch reported to KWS veterinary department that one of the sub adult male rhinos had lost one of its eyes and sustained other injuries on the back. The animal got injured during a fight with an older male while competing for mating. The body condition had started deteriorating and the rhino required a close examination and treatment.
Capture and physical examination
The rhino was located in thick vegetation and it was tracked by a light air-craft while darting was done on foot. It was darted on the right thigh using 5mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 80mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride. The first dart did not discharge and it had to be followed again for a second dart which took effect after about 5 minutes. It was then blind folded and put on lateral recumbency; Nalorphine hydrobromide (10mgs) was administered through the superficial ear-veins to help improve the respiratory rate.
It was then examined; the right eye had been smashed and completely damaged and was no longer functional, it had started healing but was still very painful to the rhino.
The eye was treated with eye ointments and intramuscular injection of antibiotics, all the superficial wounds on the body were treated by a tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray.
The rhino was revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 10 mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear vein. It took about 2 minutes to rise up.
The animal had become partially blind and only the left eye was functional, it is therefore trying to adapt using one eye, the injured eye is still very painful and might take some time to heal, it should be monitored to see the progress then later a repeat treatment can be done.
Treatment of a white rhino in Mt.Kenya
There are two white rhinos male and female in Mt. Kenya Safari Club Game ranch. The rhinos are kept in a small area where they are intensively monitored and supplemented with feeds and water. The female rhino sustained a bullet wound on the left shoulder and had been treated earlier, this time a repeat treatment was done and also to try locate and remove the bullet head from the wound. The two rhinos are still in good body condition and even the injured one is in a stable condition.
The rhino was darted on the left thigh using 5mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 80mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride. The drugs took effect after 6 minutes and good anaesthesia was achieved. Nalorphine hydrobromide (5mgs) was administered through the superficial ear-veins to help improve the respiratory rate.
The wound was probed using long forceps and gauze swabs, it was a deep wound that extended into the humerus bone causing some bone breakages. No bullet was retrieved from the wound. There was slight haemorrhage and some pus discharges from the wound that had to be drained and cleaned.
The wound was cleaned with clean water then debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide and irrigated with tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray applied. Other drugs administered included 100mls of Betamox antibiotic intramuscularly, 40mgs of dexamethasone intramuscularly, 50mls of multivitamin intramuscularly. The opening into the wound was enlarged using scalpel blade to enhance pus and debris drainage.
After treatment, the rhino was revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 10 mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear vein. Another 12mgs of Diprenorphine was administered intramuscularly to enhance a quick recovery from anaesthesia. Naltrexone (50mgs) administered intramuscularly for complete reversal of narcosis. It took about 3 minutes to recover from anaesthesia.
The prognosis was good as the rhino was in a very good body condition, very active and with good appetite. Attempts to search for a bullet head would have inflicted more injuries to the animal and cause a lot of pain and delay the healing process. The wound is too small and not touching onto any sensitive organ hence not posing any threat to the life of the rhino.
The rhino should be monitored to assess the progress of healing, if need be a repeat treatment may be done after two weeks. If possible radiographs might be used to try detect if any metallic substance is still inside. Feeds and water supplementation should continue.
Treatment of an elephant in Lemek area of Mara.
The elephant had a largely swollen and painful left hind limb, it could rarely move and remained in the thickets most of the time. It was reported to the vet by Ol-Choro Oiroua conservancy rangers and community members.
The elephant was then captured by darting on foot, it had an abscess bulging out on the lateral side of the limb, the wound was suspected to have been caused by an arrow that pierced through the joint. The abscess was lanced and all the pus drained out, it was then cleaned and debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide then tincture of iodine applied and oxytetracycline spray applied. It was also treated with intramuscular antibiotics and dexamethasone to help relieve pain and swelling. After treatment, the elephant was revived from anaesthesia using Diprenorphine administered through the ear- vein, it was up in about 3 minutes.
It had good chances of healing after the treatment as the wound was drained and cleared of any bacterial infection, it was still in good body condition, good appetite and remained near water source.
Treatment of a sub-adult elephant in Mara Triangle Conservancy
The elephant was reported to have a very deep penetrating wound on the left front limb, the wound had a small opening but extensively damaged the muscles nerves and blood vessels on that part of leg. The elephant was therefore unable to move and feed normally, it had been left behind by the rest of the herd.
The elephant was later spotted on open grassland near Oloololo gate from where it was darted using 12mgs of etorphine combined with 1000 i.u of hyaluronidase, the drug took effect after 5 minutes.
The wound was probed using Doyen’s long intestinal forceps and gauze swabs, there was no foreign material inside but it was deep touching the bones of carpal joint. It was cleaned and treated with antibiotics and the elephant revived from anaesthesia. Chances of recovery were favourable if the arthritis would not develop, but if arthritis sets in then the animal will be on intense and prolonged pain over long period of time and may not survive.
The wound was suspected to have been caused by long sharp object probably an arrow or a metallic object.
Removal of a snare and treatment of a lion in Mara Conservancy
The lion was sighted at the Mara – Serengeti border with a very tight wire encircling the shoulder and cutting right through the shoulder muscles. It had become emaciated and lost much of its body condition and required an urgent veterinary attention.
It took a long time trying to locate the lion a long a stream on the Kenya – Tanzania boundary but later on it was found lying in a tall grass along the stream. It was then darted using 200mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride combined with 200mgs of Ketamine hydrochloride. The drug took effect after about 5 minutes, it was then blindfolded and eyes treated using an Opticlox eye ointment. It was a female lion of about 2 years old that belonged to a pride of 15 lions that often move across Mara – Serengeti border.
The vital physiological parameters were assessed and were as follows, respiratory rate 24 cycles/minute, heart rate 60 beats /minute and body temperature of 36 degrees Celsius.
The wire was cut off and removed using a wire cutter, it had caused a severe wound which was cleaned and treated routinely with hydrogen peroxide and a tincture of iodine solution. Other treatments included intramuscular injection of antibiotics, multivitamins and dexamethasone. Tissue, blood and tick samples were collected for disease monitoring purposes.
The lion was the revived from anaesthesia after about 1 hour using 20mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride. Prognosis was good because the wire that kept cutting through the muscles had been removed and the wound well treated. The injury only involved soft tissues and no bone injury was detected.
During the month of September, the veterinary unit achieved much in terms treating different endangered wildlife species in the region, these include a black rhino, white rhino, elephants and a lion. The veterinary activities are going on successfully in Masai Mara and other parts of Central Rift region. Basic laboratory equipment and laboratory technician are still required to help improve the veterinary services and research activities in the region. There are plans to acquire some basic laboratory equipment in the near future through support from David Shedrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT); we will also need to re-innovate and paint the laboratory rooms and vet offices in Masai Mara and acquire some furniture to make the place fully operational.
Reported by; Dr. Domnic Mijele
DDBR&M, DDC&WS, AD-CR, SAD-BR&M, SAD-P & R, H-Other species, W-NAROK,
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust P.O. Box 15555 Nairobi Kenya