THE AMBOSELI MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - September 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR SOUTHERN CONSERVATION AREA (MVU) FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER 2015

Reported by Dr. Michael Njoroge

INTRODUCTION

SCA-mvu during this month was faced with a number of cases spanning the entire Amboseli and Tsavo ecosystem while holding brief for the TCA-MVU. There has been a gradual increase in the number of cases probably due to the dry weather season.

Case#1 Treatment of injured elephant

Date: 3rd September 2015

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 20-30 yrs

Location: Ithumba

History

The veterinary team while trying to locate a reported injured elephant spotted a male elephant with a suspected arrow head injury in the left forelimb. Plans were made on how to immobilize and treat the elephant. The elephant was darted at the water hole for examination and treatment.

Immobilization

Etorphine Hcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 18mg topped up with water for injection in a 3 ml dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out using the Dan Inject system and was relatively easy at the water hole despite the thick vegetation. The elephant went down on lateral recumbence after 15 minutes. Using a tractor, the elephant was flipped over for easy access of the wound. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperatures low.  The ears were used as blindfold.

Finding the bull to be treated

Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had an approximately 5 inch deep wound (3-4 weeks old) on the left fore limb. The wound was septic and had necrotic tissue. The wound had been caused by an arrow which was retrieved from the wound. The dead tissue was debrided and removed. The wound was then thoroughly cleaned using clean water and Hydrogen Peroxide.

Removing the arrow  Treating the wound

It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. An opening on the ventral side of the wound was made for easy drainage to prevent further infection. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A, 1200 mg Clindamycin (Dalacin C) and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 25 minutes.

Packing with green clay

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (60mgs) into the ear vein was used. It took about 6 minutes to be fully awake from anaesthesia.

Coming around after the procedure

Prognosis

Good

           

Case #2 Treatment of injured elephant

Date: 3rd September 2015

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 40-45 yrs

Location: Ithumba

History

Rangers at Ithumba DSWT stockade reported a case of an injured male elephant at Ithumba. The veterinary team located the elephant at the water hole and decided to dart,examine and treat the elephant.

Immobilization

Etorphine Hcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 18mg topped up with water for injection in a 3 ml dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out using the Dan Inject system and was relatively easy from a vehicle at the water hole. The elephant went down on lateral recumbence after 9 minutes. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperatures low.  The ears were used as blindfold.

 Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had an approximately 12 inch deep wound (1 month old) on the right flank region but close to the hip region. The wound was septic and had necrotic tissue. The wound had been caused by an arrow which the team managed to retrieve from the wound.

The arrow was recovered from the wound

The dead tissue was debrided and removed. The wound was then thoroughly cleaned using clean water and Hydrogen Peroxide.

The wound was deep and septic  The wound was thoroughly cleaned

It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection.

The deep wound was packed with green clay to prevent infection

 

The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A, 1200 mg Clindamycin (Dalacin C) and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 25 minutes.

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (60mgs) into the ear vein was used. It took about 4 minutes to be fully awake from anaesthesia.

The bull recovered well from the treatment

Prognosis

Good

 

Case#3 Treatment of injured elephant

Date: 7th September 2015

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 30-35 yrs

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

The adult male elephant was spotted within the park while performing routine patrol. A decision was made to immobilize and treat the elephant. The elephant was in a bushy area hence the DSWT was requested for darting. It was relatively easy from the helicopter though the terrain was rough and bushy.

Darting the elephant for treatment

Immobilization

The elephant was immobilized using 17 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart toped up using water for injection. Darting was done using Dan-inject system from the helicopter. Full immobilization took place after 7 minutes and he fell on lateral recumbency. With the help of a land cruiser, the elephant was flipped over for easy access to the wound. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The ears were used as blindfold.  Plenty of water was doused on the ears (pinnae) and the entire body to help cool the elephant during the operation.

Keeping the bull cool throughout the treatment

 Examination and Treatment

On examination, the elephant was in fair body condition. He had a serious wound was on the right flank region.

Examining one of the injuries

The wound had 2 openings and was likely to have been caused by a spear thrown from a platform. The dead tissue was debrided and removed. The wound was then thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream, spray and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection.

Treating one of the two sites of injury  Treating the second site of injury probably inflicted by a spear

The elephant was then injected with 200 ml Amoxcycillin L.A 20% and 100 ml dexamethasone and at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 50 minutes.

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. The elephant was up in 4 minutes and walked away.

Recovering from anaesthesia

2nd Treatment

This was carried out after 2 weeks. Procedure was as during the 1st treatment though this time darting was from a motor vehicle. Great signs of improvement were observed and the elephant was given a clean bill of health.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

 

Case#4 RESCUING AN INFANT ZEBRA

Date: 12th September 2015

Species: Zebra

Sex: Male

Age: 3 weeks

Location: Amboseli

History

A young zebra was reported abandoned in Amboseli by rangers. The mother could not be seen hence reunion was impossible. A decision was made to relocate him the Nairobi animal orphanage.

The young zebra was carried and not darted due to its young age

Immobilization

Physical restraint was used due to the age of the zebra. Using a landcruiser the young zebra was relocated to the orphanage for further nurturing and care.

The zebra is in good health and chances of survival high.

The young zebra at the KWS Nairobi orphanage

 

Case#5 RESCUE OF SUB ADULT ELAND

Date: 18th September 2015

Species: Eland

Sex: Male

Age: Sub adult

History

An eland was reported to have been spotted trapped in a 60 acre electric fenced plot in Lemongo area of Amboseli ecosystem. The eland could not jump over the fence and it was evident he had been stuck in the farm for about 1 week. He was dehydrated and starved. A decision was made to relocate him to the Amboseli National park.

The eland was trapped within a fenced plot  The eland was darted and blindfolded

Immobilization

The eland was immobilized using Etorphine HCL 7 mg and Azerperone 50 mg. He was fully immobilized after 5 min. He was loaded into a land cruise and relocated to Amboseli National Park after reviving using 24 mg diprenorphine HCL.

The eland was relocated  Waking up and walking away

 

CASE#6 SAVING A SNARED BLACK RHINO

Date: 20th September 2015

Species: Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis)

Sex: Male

Age: 3 yrs

Location: Mukururo

History

Back ground information

Informed by daily camera trap images, the Mukururo Rhino monitoring teams quickly raised an alarm that sparked a series of events with one objective; saving baby Bahati, an orphaned baby Rhino that narrowly escaped a deadly poaching incident that robbed him of his mother a year ago. Bahati was apparently walking round with a woven wire (cable) snare and was getting tighter and tighter due to the front feet treading.

Championed by the Big Life Foundation and supported by other sister conservation giants (Northern Rangelands Trust, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) and fully backed by the Kenya Wildlife Service, resources were mobilized and a search kicked off, both ground and aerial. The first three days were unsuccessful but an evidently invisible aluta continua spirit finally paid off the fourth day. Joy, tribulation, and rejuvenation momentarily reined the air when Bahati was spotted and darted from a helicopter. 

Immobilisation

Etorphine Hcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 3.5mg and 50mgs Azaperone topped up with water for injection in a 3 ml dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out using the Dan Inject system from a Helicopter.

All effort was made to get the Rhino to a more secure point before the full immobilization effect but the Chyulu’s rugged, rocky, and thickly covered bushes were a great hindrance. The Rhino finally went down in lateral recumbence after ducking into a totally inaccessible point.  This called for Extra Emergence effort that saw critical personnel being airlifted to the Rhino site. Sadly, Bahati had already succumbed.

Bahati with a snare around the neck

Cause of death

A differential diagnosis suggested the sceptic 5cm deep wire cut around the neck lead to bacterial infection and hence septicaemia.

Hyperthermia and hypoxia caused by the effect of the narcotics, high temperatures in the region and the tight snare were other obvious complications that must have contributed to the animal’s instantaneous collapse and death.

The snare was removed but unfortunately too late

The two Rhino horns were thus retrieved and handed over to the KWS (in charge Mukururo station).

 

Case#7 Treatment of injured elephant at Ithumba

Date: 22nd September 2015S

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 30-35 yrs

Location: Ithumba

History

The adult male elephant was spotted within the park while performing an aerial reece. A serious sceptic wound was visible from a light aircraft. A decision was made to immobilize and treat the elephant. The veterinary team attended to the case.

Immobilization

The elephant was immobilized using 17 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart toped up using water for injection. Darting was done using Dan-inject system from a vehicle. The elephant ducked int the thick nearby bush and disappeared within sight. A thorough search was embarked on for the search of the darted elephant. The search took about 1 hour and the elephant was spotted on a ridge. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The ears were used as blindfold.  Plenty of water was doused on the ears (pinnae) and the entire body to help cool the elephant during the operation.

 Examination and Treatment

On examination, the elephant was weak and had a poor body condition. He had 2 serious wound was on the dorsal flank region close to the thoracic region and rear hind limb. The wound was deep (aprox. 90 cm), with a clean cut and sceptic. It is likely to have been caused by an arrow head.  The dead tissue was debrided and removed. The wound was then thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream, spray and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 200 ml Amoxcycillin L.A 20% and 100 ml Flunixine meglumine and at different sites intramuscularly.

Treating the site of the wound

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. Owing to his weakness, the elephant could not get up. Respiration and pulse rate went down. Resuscitation was attempted for about 15 minutes but sadly the elephant died.

Resuscitation was attempted but sadly the elephant died

 

Case#8 Treatment of injured elephant at Ithumba

Date: 25th September 2015

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: 25-30 yrs

History

The elephant was spotted while searching for a reported injured elephant at the Ithumba stockade. The wound was serious and necessitated darting and treatment. The elephant was darted from a vehicle.

Immobilization

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart toped up using water for injection. Darting was done using the Dan Inject system and was done from a helicopter. The elephant went down on dog sitting position after 7 minutes. He was the flipped over to access the wound. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperatures low.  The ears were used as blindfold.

 Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had an approximately 20 cm diameter wound (approx. 1 month old) on the dorsal flank region in the thoracic region. The wound was septic and had necrotic tissue. The wound had been caused by an arrow head which had fallen off with time but caused massive tissue damage.

The arrow head caused massive tissue damage

The wound was thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 200 ml Betamox L.A and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 20 minutes.

Cleaning and treating the wound  Antibiotics were also injected

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. It took about 4 minutes to be fully awake from anaesthesia.

 

Case #9 Treatment of injured elephant

Date: 28th September 2015

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 35-40 yrs

Location: Tsavo East National Park (Salt Lick)

History

This was spotted in due course of searching for a reported injured elephant. It had a fairly large swelling on the left flank region with a little oozing pus. With an already prepared dart, this was immobilized and attended to.

Immobilization

EtorphineHcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 18mg topped up with water for injection in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out using the Dan Inject system from a vehicle. After 10 minutes, the bull went recumbent but on the wrong side and was thus rolled over to expose the wounded side for treatment. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperatures low.  The ears were used as blindfold.

Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had a healing wound with a little pus.  The wound, most likely inflicted by an arrow, had come off with time.

Manoeuvring the elephant into position for treatment  A healing wound with a little pus

This was thoroughly cleaned using clean water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 15 minutes.

Cleaning the wound  Applying green clay to the wound

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (60mgs) into the ear vein was used.  It took 5 minutes to get up and walk away from the site.

Recovering from the anaesthesia

Prognosis

Good

 

The Southern Conservation Area Mobile Veterinary Unit is grateful to all individuals and organisations that played a role in assisting us towards achieving our goal. Many thanks to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, The Samuel J and Ethel Lefrak charitable trust and The Kenya Wildlife Service for their continued support to this unit which aims at immediate response to clinical intervention, wildlife rescues and alleviating wildlife suffering.

Southern Conservation Mobile veterinary Unit (Amboseli ecosystem)

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