THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - July 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF JULY 2015

Reported By Jeremiah Poghon

Introduction

The region continued to experience relative calmness with few cases reported, unfortunately some cases were serious and fatal. Cases handled included rescue of a speared elephant calf that succumbed to its injuries in Ziwani, an adult elephant cow shot and fractured the hind limb in Bamba area of coast conservation area, treatment of a speared elephant in Amboseli national park, Treatment of an elephant bull with and arrow wound in Irima, Tsavo east, treatment of injured calf in Lualenyi ranch and rescue and final diagnosis of a rabid Jackal in Tsavo east. Dog treatment and 3 calf rescues were also undertaken.

CASE#1 TREATMENT AND RESCUE OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 2nd July 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Calf

Location: Salaita, Tsavo West

History

This elephant calf was reported by fence attendants as being injured with multiple wounds visible on the surface of the body. They covered her with grass and tree branches to protect her from the scotching sun.

Examination and treatment

The calf was lifted up examined and she appeared very dehydrated with 4 puncture wounds to the body. There was a suppurating deep wound to the left rib cage, another to the thigh, a deeper one to the femoral attachment to the pelvis and the fourth to the right shoulder joint that appeared recently inflicted. The wounds looked to be inflicted by a spear and very painful.

This calf has several spear injuries  The vet cleans the wounds

The calf was fed on milk diluted with water to hydrate the thirsty calf. The wounds were cleaned with water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide in a ratio of 1:1, doused with tincture of Iodine, sprayed with Oxytetracycline spray and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and Dexamethasone were administered by injection. The calf was deemed too weak to survive in the wild and plans were made to rescue him.

The vet tends to the injuries  The wounds are sprayed with antiseptic spray

Information was relayed to DSWT Nairobi office to arrange for an aircraft to airlift the calf to the nursery as the team moved the injured calf to Ziwani airstrip. Unfortunately the calf succumbed to its injuries shortly before the aircraft arrived.

The team awaits the rescue plane  Sadly the calf succumbed before the plane arrived

CASE#2 EUTHANASIA OF AN ELEPHANT WITH A BULLET WOUND

Date: 6th July 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Bamba area of Kilifi County

History

A report was received from the KWS security officers of an injured elephant spotted near Bamba Township together with four others with leg carrying lameness. This elephant was falling and being helped to stand by other members of the herd. The team had rushed to the area the previous day but could not find the elephants due to thick bush. A helicopter was called in and assisted in spotting the elephant.

An injured elephant is spotted  The elephants injury is severe

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was easily spotted from the chopper lying down with the other elephants surrounding her. The helicopter landed nearby and waited for the ground team to arrive by vehicle. The team arrived and moved to the site where the elephants were and found the lone injured elephant still lying down on her right flank and struggling to stand. She was anaesthetized using 15 mgs of Etorphine and the injured limb examined closely.

The ground team moves in  The team prepare to dart the elephant

There was a penetrating wound to the left thigh with swelling of the muscles, tenderness and bending of the limb distal to the injury. Probing revealed a fractured femoral bone with haemorrhaging. A decision was made to euthanize the elephant as the wounds were untreatable.

The elephant's injuries are not treatable  A bullet head is removed from the leg

Post mortem diagnosis

An autopsy confirmed the diagnosis of a complex femoral fracture and a bullet head was recovered from the injured site.

Conclusion

This was a case of attempted poaching by gun shot.

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 13th July 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Irima, Tsavo East

History

A report was made to the unit by DSWT de-snaring team of an injured elephant bull foraging near Irima hill with pus dripping from the abdominal wall. The team rushed in to find the massive bull near the area together with another bull. A team from CNN international flew in from Ithumba to film the treatment exercise.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mgs Etorphine and 60 mgs of Xylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle. The helicopter was used to keep the elephant from running into thick bush. He was immobilized in 7 minutes and went down lying on the injured flank. Ropes were fastened around the front legs and he was rolled onto the other side using the vet vehicle.

The vet tends the wounded elephant with CNN filming  The vet cleans the wound with water and Hydrogen Peroxide

Examination revealed a penetrating arrow wound with an accumulation of pus below it in a pouch. An incision was made into the lowest part of the pouch so the pus could drain. The wound was then cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide, disinfected with tincture of Iodine and then green clay was applied.

All dead tissue is debrided  Antiseptic spray was applied and antibiotics adminstered

An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein.

Reversal

The anaesthetic was reversed using intravenous administration of Diprenorphine hcl at 3 times the Etorphine dose.

Green clay was applied to the wound  The anaesthetic is reversed

CASE#4 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 19th July 2015

Species: Elephant

Age: Calf

Location: Sentrim, Tsavo

Rescue

A calf was stuck in a waterhole with its mother attempting to extract it.  The Vet Unit were able to extract the calf and reunite it with its mother.

An elephant calf is stuck in a waterhole  Reunited

CASE#5 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH A SPEAR WOUND

Date: 24th July 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

A report was made to the unit by the Amboseli Vet Unit of an injured elephant bull foraging near Amboseli park headquarters with blood dripping from the right abdominal wall. Due to the absence of the resident vet, the Tsavo vet was airlifted to the park by a DSWT aircraft from Voi, a distance of about 300kms to find a team waiting and keeping an eye on the injured bull.

An elephant is seen with a suspected spear injury

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mgs Etorphine and 60 mgs of Xylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle with a Dan inject dart rifle. The Elephant was immobilized in 18 minutes and went down in a sitting posture and had to be pulled onto lateral recumbency by use of ropes and a vehicle.

the elephant starts to go down

A fresh deep penetrating spear wound with haemorrhage was observed to the right abdomen. Blood was drained from the wound before it was cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine was then sprayed into the wound to disinfect it and green clay applied to facilitate healing. An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was administered through the ear vein and long acting Amoxycillin administered intramuscularly. At this point the elephant suddenly woke up and moved few yards before going down again.

The vet drains the wounds of pus  The vet cleans the wounds

Reversal

After initial wake up a dart filled with Diprenorphine was used but did not take effect. A mixture of 0.5 cc Naltrexone and 2 cc Diprenorphine intravenous injection worked well.

The vet prepares to reverse the drugs  The elephant on its feet

CASE#6 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 26th July 2015

Species: Elephant

Age: Calf

Location: Pipeline

Rescue

A calf fell in a steep sided waterhole at the pipeline. The Vet Unit were able to extract the calf and reunite it with its family.

The team extract the calf  Mother and calf reunited

CASE#7 EXAMINATION OF A RABID JACKAL

Date: 28th July 2015

Species: Silver back Jackal

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: VOI Wildlife Lodge, Tsavo East National Park

History

This silver backed Jackal was spotted near Voi wildlife lodge hiding in a water drainage trench and did not move even when disturbed. It appeared blind as it could not follow a person moving close to it. The Jackal was captured using a net and taken to the unit clinic where it was placed in a holding cage.

Examination and treatment

Examination revealed that the jackal was blind with injuries to the ears and showed signs of lameness. It was given an injection of Enrofloxacin and Dexamethasone and fed on small pieces of beef. It succumbed a day later and was placed in a freezer before it was taken to Mariakani Veterinary Investigation Laboratory for diagnosis of Rabies. The results returned a positive rabies case after brain tissue fluorescent antibody test (FAT).

A jackal is found blind and lame  The jackal is quickly caught using nets

CASE#8 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 27th July 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Juvenile – 5 years old

Location: Lualenyi. Tsavo West

History

The DSWT desnaring teams spotted an injured 5 year old elephant in a group of 6 other elephants limping and struggling to keep up with the family. Due to the distance from the road, helicopter assistance was sought. The helicopter was used to separate the family members from the sick individual.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Darting was done from a vehicle using 6 mgs of Etorphine Hcl propelled in a dan-inject dart gun using a Dan inject dart rifle. The helicopter was used to keep the family at a safe distance and the elephant was immobilized in 5 minutes and went down on the left flank. A penetrating arrow wound with an accumulation of pus was observed to the right elbow joint.  The pus was drained and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Tincture of iodine was sprayed onto the wound and it was then covered in green clay.

The team apply green clay after cleaning the wounds  The injured elephant has multiple wounds

An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 60 cc of Amoxicillin administered by intramuscular injection.

Reversal

The anaesthesia was reversed through intravenous administration of Diprenorphine hcl at 3 times Etorpine dose.

The elephant gets to his feet  The elephant calf moves off

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded due to elbow joint infection.

Other activities handled by the unit

  • Another elephant calf was rescued from the pipeline area of Tsavo east.
  • A KWS security dog based in Ngulia and used in operation to track poachers was treated after showing signs of anorexia and hematochezia. Blood samples were taken and slide prepared and stained with Giemsa stain. No Trypanosomes or erlichia parasites were seen. Treated with 3 cc Dexamethasone and 3 cc long acting Amoxicillin stat. Follow up revealed recovery.
  • The vet attended a court session in Malindi to give an expert testimony on poachers arrested with 8 leopard and 2 serval cat skins.

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 contribution.

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