THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - August 2016

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST 2016

Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon

The month under review witnessed an increase in injuries in Elephants, especially bulls, a clear indication of them being targeted. Three Elephant bulls were treated in Lualenyi/Taita salt lick area for injuries of the leg. Two other elephant bulls were treated for spear wounds in Ol Dodnyo Wuas and Kimana sanctuary in Chyulu/Amboseli area. Two lionesses were also attended to for injuries in Taita salt lick and Ngutuni sanctuaries. Three Elephant autopsies were also undertaken in Satao area of Tsavo east and KARI farm in Bachuma. The Tsavo ecosystem is expected to remain dry until the short rains of November.

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT – SUSPECTED GUNSHOT

Date: 1st August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Lualenyi ranch

History

This elephant bull was reported to be lame by KWS team manning southern Tsavo west after being spotted by an aerial patrol plane. The vet team rushed to the area but could not locate the elephant at the coordinates given and requested for a spotter plane from DSWT Kaluku office. The airplane arrived and spotted the Elephant after a 30 minutes search. The Vet team drove to the area and darted the elephant.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan inject dart using a dart gun from a vehicle. He was darted in the rump and went down on the right flank after 8 minutes.

There was a penetrating wound to the left hind foot just above the sole from the front going backwards. Necrotic tissues were cut away and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide and tincture of Iodine. The wound was then packed with green clay. Caused of the wound could not be determined but it is suspected that it is a bullet wound.

The injury to the foot  The injury to the foot

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 100cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

The Vet team at work  

Reversal

The Anesthesia was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The bull struggled to wake up and was assisted onto its feet and moved away slowly.

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded.

CASE#2 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 3rd August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Calf

Location: Ndara plains, Tsavo East National Park

Rescue Operation

The Vet unit while patrolling the park found an elephant calf that was wandering alone with no family or any herd in the vicinity. The vet team informed the Voi stockade team who rushed to the location to find the calf with no mother or any other herd within. The calf was rescued and taken to the stockade where it was fed on milk before being airlifted to Nairobi DSWT nursery.

An orphan found on Ndara Plains

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT BULL – SUSPECTED GUNSHOT

Date: 7th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary Ranch

History

This elephant bull was reported to be lame by Taita Hills Rangers manning the sanctuary after being spotted near a watering point. The vet team rushed to the area to find the huge bull under a tree nearby.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan inject dart using a dart gun from a vehicle. He was darted in the rump and went down on the left flank after 7 minutes.

An elephant is seen with an injury  The elephant is darted for treatment

There was a penetrating wound to the right hind foot just above the fetlock joint entering the foot from the lateral aspect and disappearing under with no exit. A wound to the sole of the opposite leg was cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide and tincture of Iodine. The wound was then packed with green clay. Cause thought to be a bullet.

The vet team assess the wound  The elephant treatment

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 100 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

Reversal

The anesthesia was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The bull struggled to wake up and was assisted onto its feet and moved away slowly.

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded.

CASE#4 ELEPHANT AUTOPSY REPORT

Date: 8th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History

A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant carcass that was sighted in Satao, Tsavo East National Park aged at about four days old. The request was for autopsy to be undertaken to know the cause of death.

Autopsy

The carcass was male lying on the right flank with the face chopped off and tusks recovered. It was in mid advanced state of putrefaction. The abdominal area was eaten away by scavengers and part of the colon was exposed. The skin on the left flank was removed exposing the sub cutis which was clear with no injuries seen. The carcass was flipped over exposing the right flank. On opening the abdominal cavity no significant findings were observed.

An elephant postmortem is completed

Cause of death – Natural

CASE#5 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT BULL – SUSPECTED GUNSHOT

Date: 8th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary

Introduction

This lame elephant bull was reported by DSWT Bura team patrolling Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary. The team rushed back to the area where they treated another bull the previous day. The bull was found lying down under a tree nearby and woke up after seeing the vehicle approach.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan inject dart using a dart gun from a vehicle. He was darted in the rump and went down on the right flank after 7 minutes.

The team get to work  The elephant is darted for treatment and the team move in

There was a penetrating wound to the left hind foot just above the fetlock joint from the lateral aspect of the foot. Another wound entered the left knee joint from the cranial aspect of the foot. The wound was cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide and tincture of iodine. The wound was then packed with green clay.

The vet assesses the wound  The wound is treated

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 100cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

Reversal

The anesthesia was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The bull struggled to wake up and moved away slowly.

The elephant gets to its feet  The elephant moves off after treatment

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded to poor.

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF A SPEARED ELEPHANT

Date: 8th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Sub Adult

Location: Kimana ranch, Amboseli

History

This elephant bull was reported to be injured by Community Rangers manning Kimana Sanctuary in Amboseli after being spotted with a swollen abdomen. The vet team rushed to the area and found the young bull foraging nearby with a swollen left abdominal wall.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart using a dart gun from a vehicle. He was darted in the rump and went down on the right flank after 9 minutes.There was a penetrating wound to the left chest area caused by a spear with massive accumulation of pus below the wound and extending to the lower abdomen.

The vet assesses the abscess  The pus is removed from the abscess

The lowest point of the swelling was opened and the pus drained out. The necrotic tissues were cut away and the wound flushed using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide and tincture of iodine applied. The wound was finally packed with green clay.

All necrotic tissue is removed  The vet team treating the elephant

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 150cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

Reversal

The anesthesia was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The bull struggled to wake up, stood up and moved away slowly.

The vet also administers antibiotics  The elephant is revived after treatment

Prognosis

 Prognosis is guarded.

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT BULL

Date: 11th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Oldonyo Wuas, Chyulu National park

History

The elephant bull was reported to be injured by community rangers from Mbirikani group ranch in the Chyulus after being spotted with a bleeding wound on the left ramp. The vet team rushed to the area using DSWT aeroplane and found the huge bull foraging in a bushy area and required the assistance of the chopper. The DSWT chopper was called in and arrived in time.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart using a dart gun. A Helicopter was used to approach and dart the huge bull and keep him from running into thick bush. He was darted in the rump and went down on the right flank after 9 minutes.

This elephant had a fresh deep penetrating wound

There was a fresh deep penetrating wound to the left rump caused by a spear with a lot of bleeding. The wound was probed and was about 30 cm deep. The wound was flushed using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide and tincture of Iodine. It was finally packed with green clay.

The wound is packed with green clay after treatment

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 150cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

Reversal

The anesthesia was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The bull woke, stood up and moved away slowly.  

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE#8 RELOCATION OF A LION

Date: 12th August 2016

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age: Sub Adult

Location: Ngutuni conservancy, Tsavo east

History

This lion was reported to have strayed outside Ngutuni Wildlife Sanctuary into the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) construction site stopping work at the site. The vet Unit was requested to translocate the two year old lioness back to the sanctuary as she could not cross the new predator proof fence put up by the DSWT to keep off wildlife from straying to community areas.

Relocation

The vet team rushed in to find the young lioness resting near the fence. The lioness was darted using a dart containing 300mgs of Ketamine and 4mgs of Meditomidine. It took about 5 minutes for the lioness to be fully immobilized. She was moved to a shade and a penetrating wound to the right hip area was treated and sutured. 15 cc of long acting Amoxicillin and dexamethasone was administered parenterally. After an operation that took ½ hour the Lioness was moved to a safe rocky outcrop away from Buffaloes who were nearby and revived using 2.5 mgs of Atipemazole. She woke up and was joined by the rest of the pride.

A lion has to be relocated  The lion is also treated for some injuries

CASE#9 ELEPHANT AUTOPSY REPORT

Date: 14th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo east

 History

A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant carcass that was sighted in Satao, Tsavo east National Park aged at about 1 month old. The request was for autopsy to be undertaken to know the cause of death. The autopsy dating of time of death placed at between 1-2 months.

Autopsy

The carcass was male lying on sternal recumbency with the tusks removed by KWS rangers. It was in an advanced state of decomposition with most soft tissues rotten away and what was left was a shell of skin and bones underneath. The carcass was flipped over exposing the underneath that was a shell of skin and skeletal tissues only. No cases of injured elephants were reported in the area in recent days.

Cause of death – Could not be established due to advanced decomposition and assumed to be natural.

CASE#10 TREATMENT OF A LION

Date: 23rd August 2016

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Taita salt lick conservancy

History

The Lion was reported injured by Taita sanctuary rangers. The vet team rushed in to find the adult lioness resting under a tree with her sub adult cubs.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The lion was immobilized using a dart containing 300mgs of Ketamine and 4mgs of Meditomidine. It took about 10 minutes for the lioness to be fully immobilized. She was moved to the shade and the examination of the wound to the right hind limb near the Achilles tendon insertion revealed a severed/torn Achilles tendon. Remedy is through delicate and expensive surgical intervention not available to the unit.

A lion is darted for treatment  The vet attends to the wounds

The Lioness will be monitored and it is hoped the cubs can hunt for their mother. Meanwhile 15cc of long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone was administered parenterally.

Reversal

 She was revived using 2.5 mgs of Atipemazole. She woke up and was joined by the rest of the pride.

Prognosis

Prognosis is poor.

CASE#11 ELEPHANT AUTOPSY REPORT

Date: 25th August 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: KARI Bachuma, Tsavo East

 History

A report was made by KWS rangers of an elephant carcass that was sighted in Kari Bachuma farm, Tsavo East National Park aged at about 3 days old. The request was for autopsy to be undertaken to know the cause of death.

Autopsy

The carcass was male lying on the left flank with the face chopped off and tusks recovered by KWS. It was in an early state of putrefaction. External examination of the carcass did not reveal any external injury at all apart from the soiling of the perineal area. The skin on the right flank was removed exposing the subcutis which that was clear with no injuries seen. On opening the abdominal cavity the peritoneal fluid was blood tinged. The intestines were abnormally empty of any food materials with massive diffuse necrosis of the intestinal mucosa. The liver and kidney were quite decomposed.

The vet team is called to investigate the death of an elephant

Cause of death – Possible food poisoning.

Other cases attended to by Tsavo vet unit

An orphan Oryx was playing with a Zebra at Voi DSWT stockade and accidentally broke his leg. He was put in a cast but the fracture could not be properly reduced due to overriding. The only option was for it to undergo expensive surgical intervention or to be euthanized. It was euthanized to save it from a lot of pain and suffering.

An Oryx with a broken leg

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 immense support to the unit. 

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