THE MERU MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - May 2016

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EASTERN CONSERVATION AREA VETERINARY UNIT MONTHLY REPORT MAY 2016

Report by: Bernard Rono Veterinary Officer

Summary

This report describes the activities of the Meru veterinary unit in May 2016.

The unit attended to an elephant with severe joint inflammation in Ol Jogi ranch. In Meru national park the unit collared a lioness as part of lion monitoring activities in the park. A subadult female lion was also treated after it suffered a penetrating wound to its thigh muscle in the course of hunting. A post mortem was carried out on a giraffe carcass to determine the cause of death.

We would like to acknowledge the financial and logistical support provided by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to enable treatment of injured wildlife in Northern Kenya.

CASE #1: LION COLLARING

Date: 11th May 2016

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age:  Adult

Location: Meru national park

Introduction

This lion collaring was implemented as part of the KWS lion monitoring program in Meru National Park in collaboration with the Born Free Foundation. The Veterinary Unit that carried out the collaring is supported by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

One satellite tracking collar was fitted on a female lion in Meru National Park on 11th May 2016. Two additional collars will be fitted on lions in other lion prides. These collars will provide baseline information on home ranges, daily movement patterns of lion prides and interactions between groups. Seasonal variation in home ranges will also be studied. Data on group sizes, pride composition and prey availability will be collected through direct observation and analyzed. 

Immobilization and collar fitting

A pride of 4 lions consisting of 2 males and 2 females were located in the rhino sanctuary within Meru National Park. One female was selected for collaring and a combination of Ketamine hydrochloride 250mg and Medetomidine hydrochloride 8mg was delivered in a 3cc DanInject dart into the gluteal muscles. The lioness went down in 6 minutes and a blind fold was applied to prevent visual stimulation. Vital parameters such as respiration rate and body temperature were recorded.

The lion is darted so it can be collared  The collar is fitted

A GPS tracking collar with an integrated VHF system from Savanna Tracking Company was fitted. The collar was programmed to transmit data at 1 hour intervals through the Google Earth interface. This data include: date, time, longitude and latitude.

The collar is fitted  These collars will provide a better understanding of the lions of Meru national park

Direct observation of collared individuals/prides will be recorded once per week. Morphometric measurements and photographs were taken and recorded. In addition the health status of this lioness was examined. Samples collected include whole blood in EDTA tubes preserved at -20°C and tissue sample in absolute ethanol.

Reversal

For reversal of the sedative an intramuscular injection of Antisedan 0.5% was given one and half hours after darting. Ten minutes later this lioness was fully reversed. 

Conclusion

These collars will provide a better understanding of the lions of Meru national park and inform conservation decisions. Two week data from the collars showed that the lion moves an average of 5.8 kilometers per day usually active at night.

CASE #2: LAMENESS IN ELEPHANT

Date: 12th May 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Ol Jogi ranch

History

This elephant was reported to have shown severe lameness and swelling of the left forelimb for 5 days. Though it was in good body condition due to plenty of water and pasture, the wildlife manager at Ol Jogi requested for a veterinary review of this elephant.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved using 13mg Etorphine delivered in a 1.5 cc Dan-Inject dart into the left thigh. This elephant fell on right lateral recumbence after 4 minutes. Its trunk was extended to ensure patent airway and eyes covered to prevent visual stimulation by folding the ear flaps.

This elephant is seen limping with a swollen leg  The swollen limb

Examination showed a swollen carpal joint. Aspiration showed a clear fluid suggesting joint inflammation. No pus was seen. Betamox trihydrate 200ml  and Flunixin meglumine 5% 40 ml were administered via  intramuscular injection.

The vet team assess the leg for injuries  

Prognosis

Inflammation of joint structures has a guarded prognosis in elephants. Wildlife rangers in Ol Jogi were advised to monitor this elephant and report if further treatment was required.

 CASE #3: POST MORTEM EXAMINATION OF A GIRAFFE

Date: 17th May 2016

Species: Giraffe

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Meru national park

History

Rangers on patrol reported a giraffe carcass within the rhino sanctuary in Meru national park. A field post mortem examination of the carcass was carried out to determine the cause of death.

Findings

The carcass which was found on right lateral recumbence and showed good body condition. Subcutaneous hematoma was observed to the right lateral thorax. There was a frothy fluid discharge from the nostrils and oral cavity and extending into the trachea. The pericardium was adherent to the myocardium.

A PM on a the giraffe

Conclusion

This giraffe is suspected to have died from acute pneumonia.

CASE #4: TREATMENT OF AN INJURED LION

Date: 28th May 2016

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age:  Sub adult

Location: Meru national park

History

Tour guides from Elsas Kopje lodge reported that this subadult lion had a wound on its left thigh. Treatment was required to prevent wound infection.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This sub adult was found in a pride of 3 lions. Immobilization was achieved using a combination of Ketamine 200mg and Medetomidine 8 mg in a 1.5cc Dan-Inject dart placed into the thigh muscles. It fell onto lateral recumbence after 7 minutes. The other two lionesses were then pushed away by vehicle. A blindfold was applied and respiration rate and body temperature were recorded to monitor the lion under anesthesia.

A lioness has been injured whilst hunting  The lioness is darted for treatment

Examination revealed a penetrating wound approximately 10cm deep suspected to have been inflicted during a predation attempt.

A puncture wound  The wound is cleaned and checked for foreign bodies

The wound was thoroughly cleaned with clean water and povidone iodine applied. Green clay was applied to prevent contamination by flies and to hasten healing. Parenteral antibiotic and Ivermectin was also given.

Green clay packed in the wound  The lion is revived and rejoins her pride

Prognosis

 This lion is soon expected to make a complete recovery.

Other Cases

  1. On the 7th May the team attended to an abandoned zebra foal in in Meru park. Examination showed bilateral blindness and malnutrition. IV fluids and oral feeding was attempted. It died 12 hours later. 

    An abandoned zebra

  2. A lioness was captured by a KWS unit in Solio ranch where it was reported to have been involved in livestock depredation. It was released in Meru park on 30th May. The vet unit was not directly involved in the capture and release of this lioness but was on hand in case veterinary intervention was necessary.  

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