THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - June 2010

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Introduction
 
The month of June witnessed drastic reduction in rainfall recorded within Tsavo ecosystem compared to the previous months and this lead to massive increase in injury cases of wild animals especially in elephants. Most of the cases involved arrow wounds, spear wounds, snares and cut wounds.
The unit also handled a case of suspected trypanosomiasis infection in a five year old elephant at the David Sheldricks orphanage in Ithumba.
 
1. TREATMENT OF SIAN AT ITHUMBA 1ST JUNE 2010.
 
Sian is a five year old orphan raised at Ithumba orphanage under the David Sheldricks program. She has been ill suffering from a dilapidating disease for a nearly two years.
The report was made after her condition deteriorated further.
She was tentatively diagnosed to be suffering from chronic wasting and anemia causing syndrome which resembled trypanosomiasis infection.
 
Treatments
 Catasol vitamin B complex 30 cc were injected intramuscularly.
 Berenil,a potent anti-trypanosomiasis drug 30 cc was given intramuscularly.
Multivitamins given as supplements in feed and water.

Sian being checked

 

Sian being checked

Prognosis
The prognosis given was guarded and our patient had a dramatic improvement before being reported ill again on 4th June 2010 where another treatment was instituted.
On 26th June 2010 Sian was reported ill again with signs of edema on the ventral aspect of the belly, the Vet rushed in to save it but it was pronounced dead before arrival.
 
Autopsy
A complete autopsy was done on the carcass and the most notable finding was the presence of undeveloped left lung lobe. There was also ventral edema under the skin with accompanying echymotic hemorrhages in the kidneys.
The right lung looked fairly normal.

The Vet checking cause of death

2. DESNARING OF A FEMALE OSTRICH AT LUALENI RANCH NEAR MWATATE. 2ND JUNE 2010.
 
Lualeni ranch is a critical wild animal dispersal area both from the Tsavo East and Tsavo west National parks. This area is inhabited by a variety of wild animals and because of its location outside protected area, poaching from the surrounding community is rampant.
A case of a female ostrich was reported with a wire snare around one of its leg with the loose end of the wire holding to trees and shrubs causing a lot of discomfort to the ostrich.
 

Immobilization and Treatment

Attempts were made to immobilize the ostrich using xylazine/ketamine combinations invain! A final attempt was made using a combination of Etophine 4 mgs and 1 mg of meditomidine.

It took the ostrich about 8 minutes to be recumbent with occasional kicks that were weak enough to be physically restrained.

The wire snare was removed and the wounds cleaned using hydrogen peroxide mixed with water in a ratio of 1:1. Iodine was sprinkled on the wounded areas.

Amoxycillin was injected intramuscularly as an antibiotic cover.

Revival was done after ten minutes using Naltrexone 1 ml mixed with 0.5 mls of atipemazole Hcl. Diprenorphine was administered intramuscularly.

The wounded ostrich  The snared orstrich

The snared orstrich

Conclusion
 Darting of ostriches by use of Etophine has not been attempted in Kenya and this case was done as a last resort to try and end the suffering of the ostrich.
Most parameters were not monitored due to lack of vet assistants who could be of good help.
Some degree of respiratory depression was noticed. The neck and head was held up to prevent regurgitation of the crop contents.
 
 
 3. A SICK LIONESS NEAR ARUBA WATERHOLE 4th JUNE 2010.
Introduction
A lion was reported sick by tourists next to Aruba Kijito water trough with signs of extreme pain and has been sited near the water trough for a whole day.
The vet team headed to the area where the lone lion was seen lying next to the water occasionally licking the water slowly to cool down from the scotching sun.

The aruba lion  The aruba lion

 
Restraint and treatment
From close observation it was noted that the lion was in deep pain that any attempt to immobilize it chemically could be fatal.
The Lioness was approached carefully from a vehicle and held by the tail, a quick exam revealed a penetrating wound on the right side of the chest caused by a sharp object or a strike from a buffalo.
Treatment was instituted by administering amoxicillin long acting antibiotics, dexamethasone and vitamin B complex all intramuscularly.
 
Follow up
A follow up was done the next day and it was found that the lion died that night and the carcass was devoured by hyenas! Hence autopsy could not be carried to ascertain the cause of death.
4. A MALE ELEPHANT WITH A SNARE AT LUALENI RANCH, 6TH JUNE 2010.
 
Less than a week after removing a snare from the ostrich in Lualeni Ranch, the vet team was back there again with a case of snared male elephant.
The elephant was sited browsing near a water hole with left front limb swollen and dragging a high tensile wire which had cut through the ankle joint.
Immobilization and Treatment
 
Immobilization was done chemically using etorphine propelled remotely by use of dan inject dart. A total o 18 mgs of etorphine was used and it took a total of seven minute for the elephant to go into lateral recumbency.
The tough twisted wire snare had cut through the soft tissues near the ankle joint causing massive tissue damage and suppuration.
The wire was removed and the dead tissues were debrided and cleaned using hydrogen peroxide and water. Iodine and oxytetracycline spray was applied on the wounded site.
Amoxycillin and dexamethasone were injected parenterally.
 
Revival
Was done by use of diprenorphine Hcl 60 mgs given slow i.v through the ear vein.
The elephant was up within a minute.
 
Follow up.
The elephant unfortunately succumbed to the injuries a week later.

Snared elephant case  Snared elephant case

Snared elephant case  Snared elephant case

The snared ele gets up after revival

 
 
5. EXAMINATION OF A LAME YOUNG ELEPHANT NEAR BACHUMA GATE IN TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK, 8th JUNE 2010.
 
Introduction
 
This is a case of an elephant calf aged about 3 years who was spotted wandering alone in the park without the family and limping from the rear leg.
The vet team assembled in the area and located the elephant with ease moving slowly and with pronounced lameness of the right hind limb.
Darting and Treatment
Darting was done using 8 mgs of etorphine alone in a dan inject dart.
The leg and found to have an old fracture which was healing but in a deformed position.
Antibiotics and dexamethasone were administered and the calf given a good prognosis of healing due to its tender age but without proper angulation.
 

Treatment of the lame calf  The lame calf

The lame calf revived

 
Revival
By use of 36 mgs of diprenorphne Hcl administered intravenously.
REMOVAL OF ARROWS FROM EMILY AND LAIKIPIA AT THE STOCKADE
15TH JUNE 2010.
 
Our dear orphans returned to the stockade once again bearing wounds caused by arrows suspected to have been inflicted by the surrounding communities near Ngutuni area.

The arrow wound in the orphans trunk  The arrow wound in the orphans leg

Treating Emily & Laikipia for arrow wounds

Darting and Treatment
They were easily darted using 16 mgs of etorphine alone in a dan inject dart gun and the areas with arrow heads carefully cleaned, removed and washed thoroughly with antiseptics and water. Finally iodine and oxytetracycline spray was administered.
 
Revival
Was done using diprenorphine Hcl 60 mgs administered intravenously.
 
Prognosis
Good for the elephants but measures should be taken to fence off the route to the community lands the elephants uses especially near the railway line.
6. ELEPHANT WITH A SCROTAL SWELLING IN OL DONYO WUAS NEAR CHYULUHILLSNATIONAL PARK. 27TH JUNE 2010.
 
 Introduction.
 
Ol Donyo wuas is a community conservancy near Chyulu hills national park with a variety of animal species. This was a case of an elephant sited near the watering hole with a big swelling in the scrotum and extending to the belly. Initially the swelling was thought to be a wound inflicted by traps or barbeb wires.
Immobilization and Treatment
Darting was done using 18 mgs of etorphine alone and the elephant went into sternal recumbency within 8 minutes. Ropes were used to pull it to lateral recumbency to prevent complications on the respiration caused by the abdominal contents exerting pressure on the diaphragm.
On examination the wound revealed a tumor of the prepuce commonly known as the sqamous cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor of the genitals.
Treatment is usually through surgical excision of the affected area and the surrounding tissues which could not be carried out in this case due to the lack of surgical equipments.
The area was washed and antibiotics administered to cater for opportunistic infections.

Treatment of elephant at Ol Donyo  Elephant at Ol Donyo

Elephant at Ol Donyo  Elephant at Ol Donyo

 
Revival
Done using 72 mgs of diprenorphine administered intravenously.
Prognosis
Poor- cases of tumors are best dealt with surgically and or by use of anti cancer drugs and radiation.
The above methods especially the surgical one has never been successful in past cases in the wild due to wound opening and infection setting in.
Chemical treatment and radiation are quite expensive and the equipment prohibitive in terms of costs.
Advice is to give it time and in case of worsening then euthanasia is recommended.
 
 
7. TREAMENT OF AN ORPHAN (KIMANA) AT VOI STOCKADE
 
The orphan aged about 2 years was reported with lameness at the Voi stockade.
Examination revealed mild swelling on the hind limb suspected to be mild arthritis or sprain.
 
Treatment
He was manually restrained and amoxicillin LA and dexamethasone administered intramuscularly.
 
Prognosis- It healed well.
Observation
 
The dry season is here with us again and as seen from the reports cases of wild animals’ injury/disease have gone up with a big margin. This is attributed to lack of enough forage/water in the park and also incursion of the park by pastoralists looking for pasture for their animals leading to increased incidences of conflict. The unit is sometimes overwhelmed due to the distance they have to cover in a day sometimes going up to 600 kilometers!
This unit is critical in terms disease surveillance and more so treatment of injuries caused by the ever increasing conflicts in the Tsavo conservation area, coast region and Amboseli National Park.
 
 
Conclusion
 
The unit will like to thank the sponsors VIER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for the immense support they recieve.
Lastly we thank the Veterinary department and the entire Kenya Wildlife Service family for its contribution to the welfare of this very critical resource, Wildlife.

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