THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - October 2015

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

Reported By Jeremiah Poghon

Introduction

The region remained busy for the better part of the month with several elephant cases attended among them two bulls with wire snares in Ithumba and Galana river, arrow wounds in a cow near Dakota that was too weak to stand and succumbed to the condition and the calf had to be rescued and taken to Voi orphanage, rescue of elephant calves along mzima pipeline, an arrowed elephant in Komboyo, Tsavo west, collaring of two lionesses in Kuku group ranch and treatment of an injured male cheetah near satao camp, Tsavo east. We are expecting rains in the area soon and a decrease in the number of cases as elephants will remain more in the park.

CASE#1 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 2nd October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Unknown

Age: Calf

Location: Pipeline, Tsavo East National Park

Rescue Operation

This temporary water hole was created by leakages along the Mzima-Mombasa water pipeline and subsequently made deeper by elephants digging activity at the site. It provides water for elephants staying near the park headquarters during the dry season when most of the water holes are dry. Visitors to the area reported an elephant calf that was struggling to climb over the walls in vain. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the location to find the calf stuck in the water hole with the mother attempting everything to help. The mother was pushed away and the calf rescued and re united with his mother.

The team help the elephant out of the waterhole  The team help the elephant out of the waterhole

CASE#2 TREATEMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW INJURY

Date: 3rd October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo West National Park

History

The elephant was seen near the Komboyo water hole with a wound on the left abdominal wall by DSWT patrol aircraft. The team rushed to the area to find the bull moving slowly with two other bulls.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart from a helicopter but it did not go down after 20 minutes so another dart with 18 mgs was prepared. It took him 7 minutes to go down on lateral recumbency of the right side after he was darted with the second dart.

There was an old arrow injury to the left abdominal wall. The wound was cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine was used to disinfect and then Oxytetracycline spray applied. Finally the wound was covered with wetted green clay.

The wound  The team work on the elephant

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 50 cc of Dexamethasone injected IV.      

Reversal

The anaesthetic was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. He stood up and walked away calmly.

Prognosis

Prognosis is very good.

CASE#3 LIONNESS COLLARING EXERCISE

Date: 3rd and 4th October 2015

Species: Lion x 2

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Kuku Ranch

History

Kuku ranch is a community conservation area bordering Tsavo West National Park and Chyulu National Park. Human predator conflict is high in the mainly pastoralist community that keep livestock as their economic activity. Understanding the dynamics of predator activity, especially lions, is crucial in solving the rampant human-wildlife conflict in this area hence the need to deploy satellite linked collars that will avail crucial information on lion movements and problem prides.

Immobilization and collaring

The first lioness was immobilized using 300 mgs of Ketamine and 4mgs of Meditomidine Hcl late in the afternoon after being spotted in the Wildlife Sanctuary; another dart was added to fully immobilize the lioness. The second lioness (Namunyak) was immobilized on the night of 4th October by aid of night vision equipment.

The first lioness is collared  The second lioness is collared

The collars were fitted with enough space to allow the lioness to feed and move with ease. The lionesses were revived one and half hours later using 0.5cc Atipemazole hcl and monitored until he moved away on his own. Further follow up reports indicate they are doing well with the satellite component sending signals.

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 19th October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Dakota, Tsavo East National Park

History

This elephant was seen by KWS personnel based at Dakota camp with an arrow injury to the right thigh but vanished. It reappeared with a swollen leg that extended to the abdomen with massive pus accumulation in the lower abdomen. She was accompanied with her 2 year old calf.

This elephant as a severe arrow injury  The pus is leaking into the abdomen

Immobilisation, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 16 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart from a vehicle. The elephant was immobilized in 4 minutes and went down lying on the injured flank. Ropes fastened to the front legs were used to roll her over using the vet vehicle.

The elephant is darted for treatment  The vet team get to work

There was an arrow wound to the left thigh with massive tissue destruction and accumulation of copious amounts of pus. The elephant had lost a lot of muscle and appeared very thin. Large amounts of dead tissue was cut out and the pus drained by making an incision at the lowest point.

The vet removes dead tissue and pus  Dead tissue is removed from the wound

An arrow head was retrieved and the wound cleaned using Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water then, doused with Iodine and covered in green clay. During treatment the female’s calf stood at a distance.

An arrow head is removed from the wound  The wound is probed for foreign objects

An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and long acting Amoxicillin administered parenterally.

Reversal

Anaesthesia reversal was done by administration of Diprenorphine at three times the Etorphine dose intravenously through the ear vein. She struggled to wake up and was assisted by ropes hooked on the tusks and the land cruiser but could not lift herself up despite being pulled to sitting position. She collapsed and died an hour later. The calf was captured and taken to the Voi stockade.

The elephant's calf is rescued when the mother dies from her injuries  Araba is taken to the Voi Stockades

Prognosis

Prognosis was poor

CASE#5 DE-SNARING AN ELEPHANT

Date: 23rd October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Ithumba, Tsvo East

History

A report was received from DSWT teams in Ithumba regarding an elephant bull that was dragging a long wire snare on the front leg and had a wound on the left hind limb.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart from a helicopter. The elephant was immobilized after 8 minutes and went down on sternal recumbency and pushed to lateral recumbency. The huge cable snare was removed which was thankfully not tight. The elephant was then flipped over to expose an arrow wound to the left thigh.

The loose cable snare is removed  The elephant is darted for treatment

The arrow wound was cleaned using Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water. The necrotic tissues were removed and doused with tincture of Iodine. Finally green clay was used to cover the wound and an intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein.

The wound is cleaned throughly  The wound is cleaned with hydrogen peroxide

  Antiseptic spray is applied

Reversal

Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the Etorphine dose.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#6 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 26th October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Calf

Location: Pipeline, Tsavo East

History

This temporary water hole was created by leakages along the Mzima-Mombasa water pipeline and subsequently made deeper by elephants digging at the site. It provides water for elephants staying near the park headquarters during the dry season when most of the water holes are dry.

Visitors reported that an elephant calf was struggling to climb out of the waterhole. The vet team together with the Voi Stockade team rushed to the location to find the calf stuck in the water hole and no other elephants in the area. The calf was retrieved from the water hole and the mother searched for in the surrounding area in vain. The calf was airlifted to Nairobi orphanage for specialised care.

Kwama is stuck in the pipeline waterhole  The vet and Voi teams rescue little Kwama

The elephant was named Kwama and is subsequently doing well at the nursery.

Kwama's family are no where to be found  Kwama is taken to the Nairobi Nursery

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED CHEETAH

Date: 26th October 2015

Species: Cheetah

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo East National Park

History

The report was made by DSWT de-snaring team in Voi regarding a lame cheetah near the road struggling to move. The team rushed to the area and found the injured cheetah under some shrub.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The cheetah was immobilized using 70 mgs of Ketamine and 1 mg of Meditomidine. He was fully immobilized using in 10 minutes. The shoulder muscles had fresh bite wounds thought to have been inflicted by a lion attack.

The vet tends to the cheetah's wound  An injured cheetah is treated by the team

The wounds were cleaned using normal Saline, smeared with Amoxicillin cream and sprayed with Oxytetracycline spray. In addition 3cc of long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone were administered parentally.

Reversal

Reversal was by administration of 0.5 cc of Atipemazole hcl

Prognosis

He was given a guarded prognosis due to inability to hunt while recuperating.

CASE#8 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 27th October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Calf

Location: Pipeline, Tsavo East National Park

Rescue operation

After the previous days rescue another elephant calf was found stranded in the same water hole with no mother. The report was made by visitors to the area of an elephant calf that was struggling to climb out of the waterhole. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the pipeline to find the calf stuck in the water hole and no elephants in the area. The calf was retrieved from the water hole and every attempt to find the mother made. However the calf’s herd was not located so the calf was airlifted to Nairobi orphanage for specialised care.

Kawaida is doing well at the Nairobi Nursery. 

Little Kawida is rescued  Kawida is prepared for her trip to the Nursery

CASE#9 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 30th October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Sub-adult

Location: Ngulia, Tsavo West National Park

History

A report was received from Ngulia Rhino IPZ of an injured elephant seen near the road at Buffalo wallows water hole struggling to stand.

Immobilisation, examination and treatment

The elephant was in poor body condition with lameness and pain of the right front limb from an unknown cause. He was treated with long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone and topped up with Vitamin B12 complex (Catasol) to boost its metabolism.

An elephant has collapsed at the side of the road  The elephant is treated and will be monitored

Reversal

Water was poured to keep him cool and he was assisted onto his feet using ropes tied to one of the tusk.

Prognosis

He limped away slowly. Prognosis is guarded

CASE#10 DE-SNARING AN ELEPHANT

Date: 31st October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Thabagunji along Galana River, Tsavo East

History

An elephant bull was seen by KWS rangers at Sangayaya camp attempting to cross the river Galana. The rangers reported it to the Vet Unit who asked for assistance from the DSWT helicopter to confirm the problem. The helicopter reported that the elephant bull was pulling a huge wire snare tied on a log and was in a lot of pain. Because of darkness the operation was scheduled for the next morning.

Immobilisation, examination and treatment

The elephant was darted using 18 mgs of Etorphine from the DSWT helicopter. The bull finally fell with his legs facing uphill and a huge struggle to remove the snare ensued.

It took an hour to cut through the snare which was made of a steel cable and was as thick as a man’s thumb. The cable alone weighed 10-15 kg and the elephant must have been dragging the branch and snare for several days judging by the amount of pus, swelling and severe damage to the limb which had torn tendons and cartilage.

A steel cable snare has severely damaged the elephants leg   The cable snare has caused a lot of damage

The wound was washed with Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water, the necrotic tissues removed and then doused with Iodine. Green clay was used to cover the wound and long acting antibiotics and Dexamethasone were injected parenterally.

The wound is cleaned with hydrogen peroxide  Green clay is applied to facilitate healing

The elephant was turned over using the Landcruiser, so that the leg could be treated all the way around. This also meant that his legs would be downhill, making it easier for him to stand up when he was given the revival drug.  

Reversal

A rope was looped loosely over his right tusk and the vehicle was positioned to assist him lift his head and regain his feet. The revival drug at three times the Etorphine dose was given and at he was up immediately.

Prognosis

Due to the terrible damage done to the elephant’s leg and especially to the rear tendons the prognosis was guarded.

CASE#11 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 31st October 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo west

History

An elephant bull was seen by DSWT aircraft limping within a group of 3 other elephants. 

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was darted using 18 mgs of Etorphine from the DSWT helicopter. The elephant was immobilized after 7 minutes and went down lying on the right flank exposing the wound to the left rear leg. There was an old healing but bleeding wound to the lateral aspect of the left foot of unknown cause. The wound was cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of Iodine was sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied.

An unknown injury to the foot

In addition an intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl and long acting Amoxicillin was given through the ear vein.

Reversal

Anaesthesia was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine at three times the Etrophine dose and the elephant woke up and moved away calmly.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

Acknowledgement

The unit would like to appreciate the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their continued funding.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo conservation area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their immense support to the unit.

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