THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - August 2010

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Introduction
The month of august like it predecessors witnessed a dry spell with very scanty showers reported especially within the TCA and Amboseli. Several cases were handled in the region; most common among them were snares and injuries in lions and elephants.
Majority of the cases were reported by tourists and patrol personnel who traverse the park intensely.
 
  1. ELEPHANT CASE WITH A SNARE AROUND THE RIGHT EAR AT KANDERI SWAMP IN T.E. 4TH AUGUST.
 
Introduction
Cases of wire snares in elephants still remain a big threat and have caused immense suffering of this species. In this case a snare cut through the middle of the right ear splitting it into two portions and causing tissue damage and fibrosis.
Immobilization and Treatment
The elephant was immobilized by a mobile projection of Etorphine propelled from a Dan inject dart gun. It took about seven minutes to be immobilized. A high tensile wire snare surrounding the ear was cut using a wire cutter and the dead tissues debrided and wounds washed using hydrogen peroxide, water and iodine.
Long acting amoxicillin and dexamethasone were administered parenterally.
 
Prognosis
Good- Though the wounds are expected to heal with fibrosis and deformity.

The snared elephant  The snared elephant

The snared elephant  The snared elephant

The snared elephant  Snared elephant after treatment

 
 
  1. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF AT SAGALLA RANCH NEAR TSAVO EAST 5TH AUGUST.
 
Introduction
An elephant calf left alone after separation from the mother was spotted at Sagalla ranch adjoining Tsavo East National park wandering alone in the bushes with its tail severed at the base. The vet team together with the desnaring team from the Sheldricks Trust rushed to the site to find the shy nearly 2 year old calf alone.
Immobilization, capture and transport
Due to its fear for humans this calf was darted using 4 mgs of etorphine and captured physically. The wounds were washed and antibiotics administered to prevent infection. Dexamethasone was also applied to combat shock.
She was transported to the Voi elephant stockade and revived.
A plane arrived from Nairobi which airlifted her to a new home in Nairobi orphanage.

The Sagalla Orphan  The Vet treats the orphans wounds

The orphan meets the DSWT Voi orphans who offer thier support

The DSWT sends a rescue plane for the orphan

 
 
 
  1. SNARED ELEPHANT AT ARUBA IN TSAVO EAST PARK 6TH AUGUST.
Introduction
This is another case of snaring possibly outside the park by the high tensile wires commonly used to pull vehicles. The snares are usually meant to catch smaller herbivores that cannot free themselves ending up in elephants which pull out attachments to the snares i.e. trees, shrubs etc.
Immobilization and Treatment
The elephant was chemically immobilized using etorphine darted from a vehicle using a dan inject darting system.
It took about 8 minutes for it to be fully immobilized, where it went down to sternal recumbency, she was pushed to lateral recumbency.
The wounds were washed with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide with excision of dead tissue debris.
Tinture of iodine was applied to the wounded areas, sprayed with oxytetracycline spray and long acting amoxicillin and dexamethasone injected parenterally.
 
Revival
Revived using Diprenorphine 3 times the etorphine dose.
 
 Prognosis
Good and full recovery expected within few weeks.

The Team cuts the snare off the elephants body

Removing the snare  The snare caused a deep wound behind the front leg

The Vet Unit treats the wounds

The elephant after treatment

 
  1. TREATMENT OF A LAME MALE ELEPHANT AT LUALENYI RANCH NEAR TSAVO WEST PARK 11th AUGUST.
 
Lualenyi is a community conservation area which acts as a good dispersal area for wild animals from both Tsavo east and west.
This elephant was spotted by owners of a nearby tented camp with signs of pain and reluctance to move.
 
 Immobilization and Treatment
Immobilized using etorphine propelled by a dan inject system from a car, it took nine minutes for full immobilization to take place. The leg was examined and a small wound oozing blood near the digits on the right front limb discovered.
Probing of the wound led to discovery of an arrow head lodged inside the foot and attached to the ligaments. The arrow head was pulled out, wound washed and disinfected and antibiotics applied.
 Treatment and revival
The wound was washed and flushed with tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray administered.
Parenteral long acting Betamox was injected intramuscularly.
     
Prognosis
Good, healing is expected.  

The Vet prepares to treat the arrow wound  The Vet pulls the arrow out

Elephant with arrow wound being treated

The wound is cleaned  Elephant with an arrow wound

 
  1. RESCUE OF A SICK LION AT KUKU RANCH NEAR TSAVO WEST PARK, 12TH AUGUST.
 
The Tsavo mobile vet team while enroute to Amboseli National Park received a report of a sick male lion about 2 years old within Kuku ranch near Tsavo West National Park with signs of dragging its rear feet.
The lion was approached and darted with 150 mg of Ketamine and Xylazine at a ratio of 1:1 mixed in a dan inject dart.
It took about 9 minutes to be fully immobilized and was treated, put in a cage and fed with fresh meat.
Examination of the hind legs revealed Partial paralysis of unknown cause and the lion was transported to Amboseli where it was further taken to Nairobi vet clinic for thorough investigation on the cause of the paraparesis.

Lion rescue

Lion Rescue  Lion rescue

  1. TREATMENT OF A SICK ELEPHANT IN AMBOSELINATIONAL PARK, 13TH AUGUST.
 
Introduction
This elephant and its calf were sited moving towards the swamp with a lot of difficulty, hence suspected to be injured below the foot.
Since she was with her calf, both were immobilized and revived together to avoid separation and aggressiveness. The cow was darted first then after it was fully immobilized the calf was also darted, both lay next to each other.
Examination, treatment and Revival
The cow was examined and found to have no outside wounds that require treatment.
The calf too was checked and seemed much in good health.
Nevertheless they benefited from deworming and some multivitamin therapy.
The calf was revived first followed by its mother, both joined up and walked away slowly.
Prognosis
Favorable, looks like this was a case of an old injury which had healed with slight deformity on the hip.

The lame elephant  The lame elephant

The lame elephant

 
 
 
  1. SUSPECTED CASE MANGE IN AMBOSELI LIONS, 14TH AUGUST.
 
Introduction
Mange is a skin condition caused by mites characterized by alopecia, crust formation and itching in most domestic and wild animals also known to affect man.
The lions were spotted in Amboseli National Park, with one showing signs of alopecia around the neck and frequently scratching.
The team managed to locate them after several attempts of attracting the lions by broadcasting sounds of buffalo calf in distress, initially around 24 hyenas rushed to the location but afterwards the three female lionesses strolled slowly towards our direction. One of them was showing signs of alopecia around the neck.
 
Immobilization and treatment
 
The lioness was picked as it was the only one showing signs of alopecia around the neck while the other two looked somehow normal.
Darting was done using 300mg of ketamine and an equivalent amount of xylazine in a dan inject dart gun at 09:19 AM and went down at 09:30 AM.
Signs of hair loss and crust formation were evident in the neck region spreading along the back and the ears. There was also scab formation.
2 mls Ivermectin was injected subcutaneously at the neck region and frontline plus 2 tubes applied on the back plus 10 cc amoxicillin injected.
Skin scrapings were collected and placed in 70% alcohol for lab diagnosis.
 
Revived at 10:20 AM where she joined the two other females and a young male.
 
Prognosis
Further medical attention to continue after the lab results are out.

Lioness with skin problem

Lioness with skin problem

Lioness with skin problem

 
 
 
 
  1. SICK ELEPHANT WITH A KINKED NECK AT ZIWANI NEAR TSAVO WEST, 16TH AUGUST.
 
Introduction
 
This female elephant was sited by the Sheldricks desnaring team who called in the vet team to the site near the park boundary at ziwani ranch. The elephant had its neck kinked to the left, forcing it to walk while facing on the sides. It is suspected to have sustained an injury on the neck.
It was immobilized by a dart filled with etorphine alone, examined for injuries but none was found. It’s thought to have sustained injury of the balance structures in the inner ear or damage to the central nervous system hence loss of the ability to right its head.
Immobilization and Treatment and.
She was immobilized using 14 mgs of etorphine alone.
Examination was done and revealed no wounds but administered with ivermectin and antibiotics.
Revived but could not wake up on its own hence she was assisted by pulling with ropes tied to a vehicle.
She is expected to live normally with the condition.

The elephant at Ziwani  The elephant at Ziwani

 
 
  1. DESNARING A WATERBUCK NEAR PARK HEADQUARTERS IN TSAVO EAST, 20TH AUGUST.
The female adult waterbuck was sited by tourists near the water pipeline area within the park with a wire around the neck though not tight.
It was immobilized using 7 mgs etorphine mixed with 40 mgs of xylazine.
Drug effects took about 5 minutes, where she was held down, the wire snare cut and given antibiotic cover.
Revived using Diprenorphine 3 times the etorphine dose.
Prognosis, very good

The Vet darts the waterbuck  The snare on the waterbuck's neck

The Vet cleans the snare wound

  1. DEATH OF A LIONESS AT THE PARK WITHIN TSAVOEASTPARK, NGUTUNI AREA, 24TH AUGUST.
 
A lion carcass was spotted under a tree in Ngutuni area of Tsavo East National Park.
It was collected and brought to the research centre where autopsy revealed penetrating wounds between the hind legs and at the back.
 
Cause of death
Injuries sustained by a blow from suspected mature buffalo.

Lion carcass

 
Conclusion
 
The Tsavo mobile veterinary unit (TMVU) is still faced with high incidences of injuries in wild animals within its area of jurisdiction and we are putting an extra effort to cope with suffering of wild animals in this vast area with rich and diverse ecosystem.
We would like to thank our sponsors VIER PFOTEN, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and The Kenya Wildlife Service for the immense support they offer to the unit.
 

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