THE MARA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - June 2014

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Masai Mara Field Veterinary Report For- June 2014

Reported by Dr.Campaign .K.Limo

Introduction

The month of June witnessed the annual migration of wildebeest from the Serengeti to Masai Mara earlier than expected with corresponding inflow of tourists to the region. Rains have continued which is good for forage and wildlife. The report on samples taken from poisoned hyenas has been released by the government chemist and implicated Carbamates; which is what was suspected. Though banned and no longer retailed in Kenya, this substance somehow still finds its way into the country. This issue was shared with the Masai Mara Park Management and hopefully strict measures will immediately be applied to stop future poisonings. Among cases handled during the period were elephants treated for various injuries, relocation of buffaloes and sampling of various wildlife species.

The following are activities carried out during the month:

CASE #1: LIONNESS GORED BY BUFFALO

Date: 8th June2014

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age:Adult

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve

History:

Masai Mara National Reserve management called requesting our help to assist a lioness seen that morning with a severe injury on her left flank. The lioness was in the company of a mature male.

The lioness was lying with a young male lion

General examination:

The lioness was lying down beside her male companion, unable to stand or move. Her left flank was torn open with the intestines and other abdominal viscera exteriorized. The lioness appeared to be edging into a state of shock with enlarged pupils and signs of anxiety.

The buffalo injury had damaged her intestines

Significant findings:

The lioness was darted with a combination of 3mgs Medetomidine and 240mgs Ketamine in a 3ml Daninject dart for closer examination. She did not move and was fully anaesthetized after 5 minutes. The male companion was chased away with the help of vehicles to allow proper assessment of the lioness. A face towel was applied to cover the eyes and immediate temperature readings taken. The temperature was 33oc which was subnormal. The wound on the left flank was extensive and deep with exteriorization of the intestines, omentum and part of the liver. Closer examination revealed perforation of small intestines with the ingesta contaminating the peritoneum. Other puncture wounds were observed on the right loin area and distally on the right forelimb. The injury could have been inflicted the night before.

The lionness was in a state of shock  Her injuries were too severe and she was euthanised

Conclusion:

With the grave prognosis evident, a decision was made to put down this lioness in order to stop her from further suffering. Euthanasia was achieved by administration of 2000mgs of 20% Non Sterile Pentobarbitone  Sodium (euthatal) intracardially since the vessels had collapsed. The lioness died without struggle after one minute and the carcass was disposed off appropriately.

CASE#2: TRANSLOCATION OF BUFFALOES

Date: 11th June2014

Species: 2 Buffaloes

Sex: Male

Age:Adult

Location: Olerai/Seretoni Farms

History:

Management of Olerai/Seretoni farms called for help in translocation of two male buffaloes trapped inside their fence. The farm is enclosed by an electric fence to protect livestock and crops. Outside this fence is a conservancy with buffaloes and other wildlife species. The buffaloes had gained entry into the farm through the gate which had been left open and they posed a danger to herders and other farm workers as well as destruction to crops.

Capture and relocation.

A good site for release was identified prior to capture. This was about 2km outside the gate and in the conservancy where other wildlife species were. Loading and offloading was done with the manual assistance of the conservancy rangers.The buffaloes were captured each at a time chemically by use of combination of 5mgs Etorphine and 30mgs Xylazine delivered through Dan inject darting system by vehicle. It took ten minutes for the buffaloes to get fully immobilized upon where they were loaded manually into a flat based tractor trailer on sternal recumbency to minimize bloat. They were carefully transported and released on the identified site.

Two buffaloes were translocated to a safe location  The buffaloes were moved manually to the vehicles

The buffaloes eyes were covered  Reversal of anaesthesia was quick

Reversal:

Upon off loading, the buffaloes were reversed with administration of 5mgs Atipamizole and 18mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride intravenously through the ear vein. The buffaloes woke up within three minutes after reversal.

The buffaloes were moved successfully   Soon both buffaloes were on their feet

Management was advised to constantly check the integrity of the fence and keep the gates to the farms closed all the time.

CASE#3 SAMPLING OF UNGULATES

Date: 12th to 15th June 2014

Species: Various Species

Location: Masai Mara

History:

KWS, in fulfilling its mandate of safeguarding and ascertaining health status of their wildlife populations, have continuous disease surveillance which is of paramount importance. This exercise was to take samples and analyze whether we have circulating pathogenic haemoparasites within theMasai Mara ecosystem. Ungulates that frequently come close to domestic animals were identified to see whether they share pathogens. Blood and tick samples were collected from various species identified who were chemically immobilized before sampling. All the sampled animals were herbivores hence the choice of drug for immobilization was Etorphine and Azaperone used in doses appropriate for each species. Reversal was achieved by use of Diprenorphine with dosage based on the Etorphine used.

A total of 34 animals were sampled which included wildebeests, Topis, Hartebeests, Zebras and Impalas. This was done in conjunction with a team from KWS veterinary Department from headquarters who took the samples for analysis.

The three day exercise went on successfully.

CASE#4: TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 16th June 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 14 Years

Location: Masai Mara

History:

This young bull was spotted limping and unable to keep pace with the rest of family members by the Masai Mara Elephant Project rangers. The project management then sought our help to treat this young bull.

General examination:

This elephant was in company of about ten others whom were believed to be his family. He walked with obvious difficulty exhibited by lameness in his rear right limb. There was a small injury on the lateral surface of his right knee joint. His body condition was still good and he was still able to feed.

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

For closer examination and treatment, this elephant was darted with 15mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride by Dan inject darting system from a vehicle. The elephant moved for about 400m before the drugs took effect; approximately after eight minutes. He assumed left lateral recumbency position which gave us advantage given that the wound was on the right side. The terrain was also good.

The vet examines the injury to the back leg  The injury was caused by an arrow lodged in the wound

Closer examination revealed a small wound lateral to the right knee joint with a lot of swelling. On probing we discovered an arrow head lodged in the wound. The arrow head was gently removed and the wound edges slightly extended to facilitate effective debridement and flushing of this wound. There was no pus, but tissue reaction had caused severe swelling. The arrowhead could have been in place for two to three days but luckily the joint integrity was not interfered with by the arrow.

The wound was probed for foreign bodies  An arrow head was removed from the wound

Wound management involved debridement with Hydrogen Peroxide and swabs, lavaging it with copious amount of water, irrigating it with Lugol’s Iodine and topical application of Oxytetracycline spray. A coat of green clay was then applied to absorb toxins and promote healing. In addition 12000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 2000mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory was given intramuscularly.

The wound was cleaned and packed with green clay

Reversal:

This was achieved by administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride via the ear vein. The elephant woke up after two minutes and moved to join other family members.

This elephant is expected to recover fully

Prognosis:

We found this elephant a week later in company of another three big bulls having moved about 30km from where  he was treated and in much better condition, moving with ease and the swelling had substantially reduced.

CASE#5 TREATMENT AND POSTMORTEM OF A LION BITTEN BY A SNAKE

Date: 19th June 2014

Species: Lion

Sex:Male

Age: Sub Adult

Location: Naboisho Conservancy

History:

The Naboisho Conservancy Warden called to ask for help after spotting this young adult lion that was struggling to breathe and isolated from his pride members who were feeding on a kill. This lion was visibly in distress and preferred to lie down with the head placed horizontally. The entire neck, including the head, was severely swollen and a very audible snore could be heard. He was also showing signs of respiratory distress. After a brief discussion, it was decided to immobilize him in order to determine what the problem was and check whether there was any foreign body lodged somewhere.

The vet examines the throat to determine the cause of the swelling  Examination shows the young lion was in good body condition

Immobilization and examination:

Immobilization was achieved by administration of 3mgs Medetomidine and 240mgs Ketamine in one 3mls Dan inject dart from a vehicle. After the lion was fully anaesthesized, he was placed in left lateral position and a more comfortable posture. However, the snoring became more pronounced and there was evidence he was breathing with difficulty especially through the mouth. The team tried to pull the tongue out so as to give enough space for air to flow out but the lion still had difficulties in breathing. The nostrils were also blocked by the swelling and so was the entire upper respiratory system including the larynx. The oral mucosa was extensively swollen and cyanotic. This lion died while treatment was being instituted and a post mortem immediately conducted.

The likely cause of the swelling was a snake bite  There was extensive swelling of the head and neck

Post mortem examination:

This lion was in perfect body condition. The neck upwards was severely swollen to the extent that both nostrils were substantially blocked. The head, lips and the tongue were equally swollen with severe cyanosis.

On opening the carcass, the following observations were noted;

  1. The tongue and the lips were grossly swollen and severely cyanotic
  2. The head and neck were also grossly swollen with gelatinous fatty degeneration of fat around this region
  3. The tracheal lumen was compressed by the swelling to the extent that little air could pass through. This was the same case with the nostrils
  4. There was severe cellulitis from the lips that extended aborally to the base of the neck
  5. Laryngeal cartilages had collapsed due to pressure from the swelling
  6. There were prominent fang marks on the left side of the neck which were clear on the outside surface of skin and demarcated by pinpoint hemorrhages subcutaneously
  7. All other organs appeared grossly normal

Conclusion

This was a case of snake bite with cytotoxic envenomation.Most of the cytotoxic venoms are localized causing severe cellulitis around the area of bite and eventual sloughing of tissues. Among species of snakes with such venoms are the puff adders which are common in this region. With compression of airways due to swelling, there was functional respiratory failure and this lion could not withstand anaesthesia.

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 22nd June2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 45 years

Location: Siana Conservancy Masai Mara

History:

The Siana conservancy management called to seek intervention on this massive elephant bull with wounds on his left elbow and left thigh. He was in the company of two other mature bulls who were in sound health.

General examination:

This elephant was found close to a thicket and appeared calm. He had a discharging wound on his left thigh and left elbow. He moved with a slight limp of his left hind leg and he had two other swellings on the lower side of his right abdomen which appeared like old healed scars.

This big bull was in the company of two other large bulls  Alot of water is used to keep the elephant cool

Immobilization, examination and treatment:

To immobilize this elephant for closer examination, 17mgs Etorphine was delivered through a 3ml Dan inject dart by use of vehicle. It took twelve minutes for this bull to get fully immobilized falling on his right side. As it was a hot day, he was doused with plenty of water to cool him and a thorough examination of the wounds was carried out. The wound on the thigh appeared to have been caused by spearing. Although no foreign body was found the wound was septic with an accumulation of pus. This wound was blind ventrally where a lot of pus accumulated. An opening was created at the most ventral partof this wound for maximum drainage of pus and for through and through lavage. About 4liters of pus was drained and a copious amount of water was used to lavage this wound. All debris was removed by probing, use of Hydrogen Peroxide and swabs. Finally, Lugols Iodine was used for irrigation before green clay was packed into the wound.

There was a large swelling on the back leg   The vet examines the elephant for other wounds

The wound on the left elbow was open and already infested by maggots. However, it was shallow and also appeared to have been caused by spearing. Luckily, the integrity of the joint was not affected. All maggots were removed before the wound was washed with copious amount of water and being debrided with Hydrogen Peroxide and swabs. Lugol’s Iodine was used to disinfect and then green clay was packed into the wound. As for the other swellings, careful aspiration yielded nothing as they appeared like old healed scars on palpation. They were therefore left as they appeared in consequential.

There was a second injury on the elbow joint  The wounds are checked for foreign bodies

In addition, 15000mgs of Amoxycillin antibiotics and 2500mgs of Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory were given intramuscularly. To prevent further maggot infestation 500mgs of Ivermectin was administered subcutaneously.

Reversal:

Reversal was achieved by administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine intravenously through the ear vein. The elephant rose to join his colleagues two minutes after reversal.

The elephant recovers quickly from the anaesthetic   The is suspected to make a full recovery

Prognosis:

Good

CASE#7: TREATMENT OF AN INJURED GIRAFFE

Date: 26th June 2014

Species: Giraffe

Sex: Female

Age: Sub Adult

Location: Oloolologate, Mara Triangle

History:

This giraffe was spotted by Mara Triangle rangers in a group that was browsing near Oloololo gate. She had an arrow sticking from the left side of her neck though she was still in good body condition.

General examination:

We found this giraffe retreating to the forest with a group of another ten giraffes and the arrow was visible from a distance. She appeared pregnant and a lot of diligence was required when immobilizing her.

The injured giraffe was amongst a herd of others

Immobilization and treatment:

With the help of Mara triangle rangers this giraffe was intercepted before she entered the thickets. Immobilization was achieved by administration of a combination of 12mgs Etorphine and 40mgs Azaperone delivered through a 3ml Daninject dart from a vehicle. The giraffe was fully immobilized after eight minutes where upon the arrow was gently removed. The resultant wound was washed with water and swabs before Hydrogen Peroxide being used to debride and Lugol’s Iodine being applied. Oxytetracycline spray was then used topically. In addition 6000mgs of 20% Oxytetracycline antibiotic and 1000mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory was administered intramuscularly.

The arrow was prominent in her neck  The arrow was removed

Reversal:

Achieved by administration of 36mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride given through the jugular vein, the giraffe then woke up with a little assistance after approximately ten minutes.

The giraffe was soon up and on her way

Prognosis:

Good.

Conclusion:

The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit would like to thank all stakeholders who assisted in reporting the cases that required intervention during the period. Many thanks to Kenya Wildlife Service through the Veterinary Department for their continued support to the unit. Many thanks also to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for their facilitation to the unit which has led to quick and efficient response to wildlife emergency cases within the ecosystem.

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