THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - February 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FEBRUARY 2015

Reported By Jeremiah Poghon

Introduction

Cases of injuries in elephant’s especially big bulls increased drastically in the month under review with many cases attributed to unsuccessful poaching attempts. Cases increased around Komboyo area of Tsavo west where several elephant bulls were treated for arrow wounds. Other cases were examination and euthanasia of a sickly leopard, treatment of a Zebra and desnaring of an elephant calf injured on the leg near Taita salt lick sanctuary.

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH ARROW INJURY

Date: 3th February 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo West

History

Reports were received that several elephant bulls were injured around Komboyo area of Tsavo west with pus oozing from septic wounds. The team rushed in assisted by the DSWT aircraft and easily located the injured bulls. Preparations were made to start the treatment operations.

 Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was darted with 18mg Etorphine Hcl 18mg, in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart using a rifle from a vehicle. The elephant was near a water hole and was immobilized after 10 minutes.

Several big tuskers were treated  Bull 1 with an arrow injury

There was a swelling on the left thoracic wall with an upper opening and accumulation of pus below thought to have been caused by an arrow.

The Vet examines the wound  The arrow wound is probed

The swelling was lanced open, pus drained, necrotic tissue removed and cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. The wounds were sprayed with Tincture of Iodine and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered by injection.

The wound is cleaned   Necrotic tissue is removed

Reversal

Reversal was attained by administration of 60 mgs of Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously into the ear vein.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE #2 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW INJURY

Date: 3th February 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo West

History

Reports were received that several elephant bulls were injured around Komboyo area of Tsavo west with pus oozing from septic wounds. The team rushed in assisted by the DSWT aircraft and easily located the injured bulls. Preparations were made to start the treatment operations.

 Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was darted with 18mg Etorphine Hcl 18mg, in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart using a rifle from a vehicle. The elephant was near a water hole and was immobilized after 15 minutes. The aircraft tracked the elephant so as to not lose the elephant in the thick bush. The elephant fell on sternal recumbency, a position that compromises respiration and had to be pushed over to lateral recumbency.

The elephant was immobilised   Another big tusker is treated

There was a swelling on the right thoracic wall with necrotic flesh visible in the wound. The swelling was lanced open, pus drained and an arrow head retrieved from the wound.

The vet cleans the wound  The necrotic tissue is removed

The necrotic tissue was then removed and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. The wounds were sprayed with tincture of iodine and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered by injection and Water was splashed on the ears to keep the elephant cool as the day was hot.

The wound is cleaned  The necrotic tissue

Reversal

Reversal was attained by administration of 60 mgs of Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE #3 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW INJURY

Date: 3th February 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo West

History

Reports were received that several elephant bulls were injured around Komboyo area of Tsavo west with pus oozing from septic wounds. The team rushed in assisted by the DSWT aircraft and easily located the injured bulls. Preparations were made to start the treatment operations.

 Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was darted with 18mg Etorphine Hcl 18mg, in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart using a rifle from a vehicle. The elephant was near a water hole and was immobilized after 8 minutes. The aircraft tracked the elephant so as to not lose the elephant in the thick bush.  The elephant fell on the injured side and it took the team nearly an hour to flip him over in order to access the wounded side.

The wound is cleaned and debrided  A lot of necrotic tissue is removed

There was a swelling on the left abdominal wall near the hind leg with necrotic flesh visible in the wound. The swelling was lanced open, necrotic tissue removed and wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. The wounds were sprayed with tincture of iodine and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered by injection. Water was splashed on the ears to keep the elephant cool as the day was hot.

The pus is drained out  The vet team attending the 3rd case

Reversal

Reversal was attained by administration of 60 mgs of Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#4 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF FROM A WATER HOLE

Date: 7th February 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Infant

Location: Near Voi safari lodge, Tsavo east.

History

During the dry seasons like the one Tsavo is currently experiencing, elephants search for water in all possible areas including water leaks from the Mzima pipeline that transports water to Mombasa. The deep hole made by digging elephants is too steep for juvenile elephants to climb out hence they need rescue. About 5 elephant calves have died in the water hole in the last four months. One of the calves that fell was rescued from the water hole and reunited with his mother despite the risks of the mother attacking the elephant calf.

A young elephant is trapped in a waterhole  The elephant is extracted from the waterhole

The young calf is guided back to its mother  Mother and baby are reunited

CASE#5 EUTHANASIA OF A ZEBRA INJURED BY A TRUCK

Date: 11th February 2015

Species: Common Zebra

Sex: Male

Age: Sub Adult

Location: Manyani gate, Tsavo east

History

A Zebra was reported hit by a trailer along Nairobi-Mombasa road near Manyani Trading Centre where one was killed and another sustained injury.

Immobilization and examination

As the Zebra was recumbent, no anaesthesia was required. Examination revealed blunt object trauma and internal bleeding that was extensive. Due to the complexity of the injury and the non-feasibility of healing (poor prognosis) euthanasia was the best option to end suffering. The zebra was euthanized by administration of euthanize (Pentobarbitone sodium 20%) rapid intravenous.

A zebra is injured by a vehicle  Euthanasia is the only option

CASE#6 ELEPHANT COLLARING EXERCISE

Date: 12-13th February 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male and Female

Age: Adult

Location: Rukinga and Taita ranches

History

Due to the ever increasing cases of human wildlife conflict especially involving elephants, many techniques have been tried to stem the problem. For a technique to work a good understanding of elephant movement dynamics is important. This is only possible with the fitting of individual elephants with satellite linked GPS enabled collars that give real time data on elephant movement dynamics. For collaring to take place, elephants have to be immobilized by the vet team.

Immobilization and collaring

The operation was scheduled in the cool hours of the morning and late afternoon in order to minimize complications caused by high temperatures that currently prevail in the Tsavo region. 3 cc darts filled with 17 mgs of Etorphine and 18 mgs and 1000 i.u of Hyalase were used to immobilize cows and bulls respectively. The darts were propelled by a gas operated dan-inject dart gun from the safety of a Helicopter. The Helicopter was also used to herd the darted elephant close to the roads and away from thick bushes and bad terrain in addition to provision of security to the ground team.

The elephant is kept cool  Elephants are immobilised for the collaring

After the elephant went down it was immediately secured in a good position by the ground team which composed of a vet and the capture staff. Various physiological parameters were monitored and appropriate treatment instituted. Collaring was done quickly and took between 9-25 minutes depending on specific challenges. Blood and parasitic samples were taken for lab analysis.

Collars are fitted to monitor movements  Monitoring helps stop human wildlife conflict

Reversal

Revival was done using an Opiod Antagonist Diprenorphine at three times the Etorphine dose. Close monitoring was done at a distance until the Elephant was on its feet and walking before the team left the area.

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 14th February 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Infant, (1 year)

Location: Taita salt lick sanctuary

History

This elephant was reported with an injury to the leg by Taita hills sanctuary rangers and then reported to the vet team. On arrival in the area the calf was easily spotted with his mother and other family members. Due to the protectiveness of the family members the herd was pushed to an open area using vehicles for easier immobilization.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The mother was immobilized using 16 mgs of Etorphine propelled by a Dan inject and went down after 10 minutes while the one year old calf was restrained manually after which  he was also injected with 2 mgs of Etorphine intravenously to calm him down. A tight cutting wire snare on the left front limb was cut loose, the deep wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide, then doused with iodine and covered with green clay.

Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were administered intramuscularly. The two were cooled by pouring water on their ears.

Reversal

Reversal was done using Diprenorphine at 3 times the Etorphine dose, they both woke up and move away slowly to join the herd that was waiting nearby.

Prognosis

The prognosis was guarded and after a month the young elephant was struggling to keep up with the herd and the mother was falling behind. Due to the vulnerability of the calf and the severity of the injury which was not healing as quickly as hoped the elephant was rescued and taken to the Sheldrick Nursery in Nairobi. He has since been named Mwashoti and is doing well.

Conclusion and acknowledgement

The unit would like to appreciate the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their continued support.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo conservation area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their support. Many thanks to southern conservation mobile vet unit (SCMVU) based in Amboseli national park for holding brief while the Tsavo vet unit was away.

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