THE MERU MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - June 2014

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Meru Conservation Area Veterinary Field Report – June 2014

Reported by - Bernard Rono

Introduction:

This report describes the activities of Meru Vet Unit in June 2014. The unit attended to 3 cases of injured elephants in Meru national park and Ol Jogi ranch which are a result of human wildlife conflict. Three hand raised black rhinos in Lewa were injured by an adult black rhino which strayed into the stockade. The baby rhinos were treated and have since recovered. Other post mortem examinations are also described in the report.

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 5th June 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 3years

Location: Ol Jogi Ranch, Meru

History:

On 5th June 2014 the Meru veterinary unit was alerted to an injured elephant calf in Ol Jogi ranch by a wildlife monitoring team. This was a 3 year old male elephant that had leg lameness and swelling on the right forelimb for the previous two weeks. He had difficulty keeping pace with the rest of the herd.

The elephant senses the teams presence  The team assess the injuries

General Examination:

The elephant calf was darted on the 6th June to investigate the cause of lameness. The calf was located near a stream with its family close by and was in fair body condition. Darting was conducted on foot using Etorphine Hcl 2mg in a 1.5cc Dan Inject dart syringe. Examination showed an abscess caused by a retained arrow head penetrating into the soft tissue around the elbow joint of the calf’s right forelimb.

The arrow inside the wound  The abscess has a lot of pus

This injury may have occurred as a result of human wildlife conflict involving crop raiding elephant herds and rural farmers in Laikipia County.

For treatment:

  • The arrow head was carefully retrieved using a surgical forceps with minimum trauma
  • Lancing and chemical debridement of the abscess using dilute hydrogen peroxide
  • Lavage with Povidone Iodine
  • Betamox trihydrate LA 40ml deep intramuscularly
  • 5% Flunixin Meglumine 20 ml intramuscularly

The weapon has made a lot of damage  Foreign bodies are removed from the wound

Reversal

The elephant was revived from anesthesia using Diprenophine Hcl 12mg intravenously into the superficial ear vein.

The elephant gets up after treatment  The elephant will be monitored closely

Conclusion:

Prognosis for recovery remains guarded mainly because of the risk of intractable infection of the elbow joint; recovery may also lead to joint deformity. This calf was later reported to have reunited with its mother by a patrol team who were advised to monitor its movement. A review is planned at 4 weeks post treatment though a slight improvement was reported at 2 weeks post treatment.  

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Dr. Steve, the veterinary surgeon in Ol Jogi who provided valuable support during the treatment procedure and has been monitoring the injured calf over the past 3 weeks.

CASE #2 TREATMENT OF INJURED BLACK RHINO CALVES

Date: 5th June 2014

Species: 3 Black Rhino

Sex: Male

Age: Nicky- 2years, Hope 1.5years and Kilifi 9months old

Location: Lewa Conservancy

History:

In Lewa wildlife conservancy three hand-reared black rhino male calves; Nicky, Hope and Kilifi, were viciously attacked by a male black rhino that had found its way into the stockade on 5th June.

General Examination:

An evaluation on 6th June showed superficial bruises and traumatic soft tissue injuries in the abdomen and chest.

The bruising left by the male rhino  One horn was broken by the male rhino

A three day course of anti-inflammatory drug 5% Flunixin meglumine at 5mg/ kg body weight were administered and topical Oxytetracycline spray was applied. The calves have since recovered fully.

The young baby rhinos   The injuries were treated and a full recovery expected

CASE #3 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 14th June 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 5years old

Location: Meru National Park

History:

On 14th June 2014 tour guides from Elsa’s Kopje reported to the unit a sub adult elephant in Meru national park which had pus discharging from a wound on the trunk. This was a 5 year old male elephant in a herd of 15 individuals.

The following day the herd was tracked to the Rojowero River and the elephant was darted at 3.25pm. For immobilization Etorphine Hcl 4mg in a 1.5cc DanInject dart was used. The dart was placed into the gluteal muscles and the elephant was down in 5 minutes.

The young elephant had a wound to the trunk  The elephant went down quickly after being darted

General Examination:

A quick evaluation showed a penetrating wound at the base of the trunk and an abscess. On probing with a forceps the wound was 4 inches deep and may have been a result of foreign body penetration.

The elephants injuries were assessed  The vet assessed the injuries

For treatment:

  • Chemical debridement of the wound using dilute hydrogen peroxide
  • Lavage with Povidone Iodine
  • Betamox trihydrate LA 60ml deep intramuscularly

Wounds were probed for foreign bodies

Reversal

After treatment the elephant was revived at 3.45p.m using Diprenophine Hcl 18 mg injected intravenously into superficial ear veins.

The elephant woke up quickly and joined the herd

CASE #4 POST MORTEM OF AN ELEPHANT CARCASS

Date: 18th June 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 35years old

Location: Meru National Park

History:

On 18th June 2014 rangers on patrol found an elephant carcass in Mutundu river. This was an adult bull more than 35 years old which had only one tusk.

The postmortem suggested an internal infection

General Examination:

Inspection of the carcass showed no external injuries. The carcass which was decomposed was estimated at 3 days old. No significant findings were recorded during a post mortem examination and the cause of death was attributed to an internal disease condition.

The one tusk was removed and sent to KWS

The tusk which was extracted is under custody of the company commander.

CASE #5 TREATMENT OF A SPEARED ELEPHANT

Date: 27th June 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Sub adult

Location: Meru National Park

History:

On 27th June Elsa’s Kopje tour guides reported that a sub adult female elephant in poor body condition had a tight wire snare around its trunk and had difficulty drinking water from the river. Lameness was also observed on the right forelimb. The elephant was immobilized immediately after tracking the herd from Mulika River where it was seen.

The injured elephant was amongst its herd  The elephant has lost body condition

General Examination:

Standard elephant immobilization procedure was followed using Etorphine Hcl 5mg in a 1.5cc dart. It was down in 8 minutes after which the rest of the herd was driven away with a vehicle.

An evaluation showed a septic wound caused by a retained spear 40cm long into the muscles of the scapula with extensive tissue necrosis. The spear which was attached to a small polythene sheet suspected to have been poison laced causing severe tissue damage.  The wire snare on the trunk caused soft tissue strangulation and a septic penetrating wound. The wounds were at least 3 weeks old.

There was a snare tight around the trunk  A projectile was sticking out of the wound

This elephant had difficulty accessing nutritious browse, in addition to septicemia from the wound infection hence poor body condition.

Treatment:

  • Spear was carefully retrieved and the wire snare removed using a wire cutter
  • chemical debridement of the wounds using hydrogen peroxide and iodine lavage
  • parenteral antimicrobial 30% Oxytetracycline 100ml intramuscularly to treat resulting septicemia
  • 1% Dexamethasone 50ml intramuscularly
  • Multivitamin injection 100ml

A weapon recovered from the wound

Reversal:

Without veterinary intervention this animal would have died.Prognosis for this case remains guarded due to septicemia. However, we will continue to monitor this elephant and a review will be scheduled when necessary.

The elephant wakes up free of the spear and snare

OTHER CLINICAL CASES ATTENDED

Date: 3rd to 5th June 2014

Species: Giraffe

Sex: Unknown

Age: Unknown

Location: Bour Alghy Giraffe Sanctuary

The unit was alerted to an injured giraffe with a wire snare on its right forelimb in Bour Alghy giraffe sanctuary by the warden in charge of KWS station in Garissa. A three day search for the giraffe for treatment on 3rd to 5th June 2014 was not successful.

Date: 4th June 2014

Species: Hippopotamus

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Cheridede/Tana River

On 4th June the team responded to a call by local community in Cheridede on a hippopotamus which fell into a shallow well in a lugga along the banks of Tana river. The hippo, which had been stuck for the past two days, suffered severe dehydration and was in poor body condition. It was euthanized.

The hippo was to dehydrated to survive

Date: 24th June 2014

Species: Reticulated Giraffes

Sex:

Age: Adult Giraffe

Location: Murera River

On 24th June the platoon commander Korbesa, reported that 2 reticulated giraffes had died along Murera river. He requested for an examination of the carcasses to determine if the cause of death was a result of a disease process. During a visit to the area the team found a skeleton of a sub adult giraffe. The carcass had been consumed by scavengers. No significant findings were recorded but we will look out in future for reports of carcasses in the area.

Only a partial skeleton was found by the team

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