THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - October 2016

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF OCTOBER2016

Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon

The month of October experienced an increase in cases of Elephant treatment and rescue mainly attributed to the prevailing drought conditions in the ecosystem. Many calves were rescued after being abandoned by their mothers because they were too weak to move along with the herd. Others got stuck in muddy water pools and had to be rescued. Two Elephants were treated for arrow wounds thought to have been caused by human- wildlife conflicts in Taita sisal estate that borders a community area. A Zebra and a young elephant were treated for snares in Mbulia and Taita salt lick conservancies respectively. Two calves were rescued after being found recumbent near Aruba lodge area, Tsavo east. The rains expected late in October have delayed and if not received in the Month of November, wildlife suffering will continue.

Case #1 Treatment of an Injured Elephant Cow (Ex Orphan Emily)

Date : 13th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Gender:  Female

Age: Adult

Location: Teita Sisal Estate sanctuary, Mwatate

Introduction

The elephant cow was reported by Teita sisal estate staff to be injured with an arrow head sticking on the side inside Teita sisal estate wildlife sanctuary. The Vet team arrived at the area to find the herd of former Ex Orphan elephants nearby. Emily, the matriarch, was easily picked from the herd and an arrow head could be easily seen in her side.

Ex Orphan Emily with an arrow wound

Immobilization

16 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject dart was prepared and loaded into a dart gun. Foot was used to approach and dart the young cow. She was darted in the rump and went down on the left flank after 5 minutes. She was rolled over to expose the right flank with the arrow.

Treatment

The arrow head was removed and the wound cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide doused with tincture of iodine and covered in green clay. Long acting antibiotics and dexamethasone were administered parenterally. Anaesthesia reversal was done by administration of 24 mgs of Diprenorphine with 25 mgs of Naltrexone Hcl.

Preparing Emily for treatment  The site of the arrow wound

The arrow head  Cleaning the wound with peroxide and iodine

She woke up and joined the rest of the herd.

Prognosis is good.

Recovering after treatment

 

Case #2 Autopsy Examination of Elephant Calf Carcasses

Date: 14th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male and female

Age: 2 calves

Location: Dida Harea waterhole, Tsavo East National Park

History and Autopsy

The dead elephant calves were spotted near the Dida Harea water pumb under a tree with no family around. The vet team was requested to find the cuase of the deaths. External examination revealed bite marks on the throats and back of the two carcases. The calves were very young, approximated between than 4-6 months old and in good body condition. No other injuries were observed. The injury marks indicated a lion attack on the calves. Thequestion we were not sure about is how the calves were attacked and the mothers and maternal family did not protect them, as is usually the case.

One of the dead calves with signs of predation  The two dead calves together

 

Case#3:Treatment of a Snared Zebra

Date: 15th October 2016

Species: Common Zebra

Gender: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Mbulia sanctuary, Tsavo east

Introduction

The Zebra was reported by the DSWT desnaring teams patrolling the area. The wire snare was long and dragging along the ground, impeding movement. She was easily traced as some people were left tracking her.

Zebra with the snare around its neck

Immobilization

6 mgs of Etorphine Hcl and 60 mgs of Xylazine in a dan inject dart was prepared and loaded into a dart gun. She was approached on foot and darted. The first dart bounced and a second one was prepared. She was darted at the ramp and went down on the right flank after running for about 5 minutes.

Treatment

The wire snare was removed and the slight cuts on the neck treated with antibiotic spray and iodine. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were administered parenterally. Anaesthetic reversal was done the administration of 18 mgs of Diprenorphine Hcl and 2.5 mgs of Atipemazole Hcl IV through the jugular vein.

Removing the snare whilst under anesthesia  Treating the slight cuts caused by the snare

Prognosis is good.

The wire snare  The zebra recovering after the treatment

 

Case#4 Rescue of Two Elephant Calves near Aruba Area

Date: 19th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male and Female

Age: 2 and 4 years old

Location: Aruba, Tsavo East

History and treatment

A report was received from KWS security teams of one elephant calf that had fallen and was unable to get up near Aruba water wind mill. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant calf lying down, struggling to stand up. Attempts to pull the calf onto its feet failed a he was too weak.  Examination revealed it was too weak to survive alone and was transported to Voi stockade for treatment and care.

The older calf found in a state of collapse  The calf was found alone

Dousing the calf with water and providing some to drink

Immediately the vet team was alerted of another recumbent calf nearby. Both calves were rescued and taken to Voi stockade. At the Voi stockade they were administered with 50 % dextrose bolus IV and a further slow IV lactated ringer’s solution through the ear vein. Further administration of long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone was done.

Rescuing the younger calf

The older calf was kept at Voi stockade while the younger one was airlifted to Nairobi orphanage. They were both diagnosed with poor nutrition due to the prevailing drought conditions in Tsavo.

 

Case #5 Rescue of an Elephant stuck in Muddy Dam in Kuranze

Date: 20th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Young adult

Location: Kuranze, Kwale County

History, examination and management

The report was received from KWS security personnel manning the Tsavo ranches; they spotted a weak elephant that got stuck in a dried up dam in Kuranze ranch. The dam had formed a muddy trap for this weak and emaciated elephant as it was drying.

Elephant stuck in a very muddy dam  Preparing to secure ropes

The Elephant was so stuck in the mud that treatment of an arrow wound on the thigh was undertaken without the need for anaesthesia. Pus was drained from the wound and it was further washed using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide and doused with tincture of iodine. It was finally covered in green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs were administered by injection.

Treating the arrow wound on hind leg

The elephant was then pulled out of the mud using ropes tied to a land cruiser and assisted onto its feet with the ropes tied to the upper tusk. He struggled to his feet and moved away slowly, but still shaking from the trauma of being stuck in the mud for so long.

Securing ropes to haul the elephants out  Elephant nearly out of the mud

Finally standing and recovering after his ordeal

 

Case #6: Autopsy of an Elephant Bull Carcass

Date of Autopsy: 22nd October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Rukinga ranch, Tsavo East

History

A report was received from KWS rangers of an elephant calf carcass that was seen in Rukinga ranch adjacent to Tsavo east National Park. The request was for an autopsy to be undertaken to establish the cause of death.

Autopsy

We found the carcass belonged to a male, bull elephant; it waslying on sterna recumbency with huge chunks of flesh removed by community members living nearby.There seemed to be no disturbance in the vicinity. Most of the internal organs had haemorrhages within. There was no external injury on the carcass that we could find.

Cause of death – suspected food poisoning.

 

Case#7 Treatment of an Injured Young Elephant with a Snare

Date: 24th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Gender: Female

Age: 5 years old

Location: Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary

Introduction

The elephant calf was reported to be injured with a tight snare around its neck near the Taita salt lick wildlife sanctuary. The Vet team rushed to the area to find the herd of Elephants near the hotel drinking water. The young Elephant was easily spotted with a snare around its neck.

Immobilization and Treatment

6 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject dart was prepared and loaded into a dart gun.  A vehicle was used to approach and dart the young elephant. She was darted in the rump and went down on the left flank after 5 minutes.

Two vehicles were used to separate her from the protective herd. The snare was removed and the wound cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide doused with tincture of iodine and covered in green clay.

The snare around the young elephant  Removing the wire snare

Long acting antibiotics and dexamethasone were administered parenterally. Anaesthesia reversal was done by administration of 12 mgs of Diprenorphine. She woke up and joined the rest of the herd.

The wound left by the snare  Cleaning and treating the wound

Prognosis is good.

 

Case #8 Autopsy of a Young Bull Elephant

Date of autopsy: 24th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Young adult

Location: Wangalla ranch, Tsavo East

History

A report was received from KWS rangers of an elephant calf carcass that was seen in Wangalla ranch adjacent to Tsavo east National Park. The request was for an autopsy to be undertaken to establish the cause of death.

Autopsy

The carcass was male lying on lateral recumbency with slight carnivore activity on the carcass. The Elephant seemed to have struggled for sometime on the ground. The condition of the carcass was very poor rated at 2/5. No pathological changes were observed upon opening.

The elephant bull carcass

Cause of death- Poor nutrition.

 

Case #9: Rescue of an Elephant Calf in Rukinga Ranch

Date: 26th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: 3 months old

Location: Rukinga ranch, Tsavo East

History and treatment

A report was made by Rukinga ranch staff of one elephant calf that was abandoned and observed to be alone since the previous day. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant calf alone in a nearby bush. The calf was captured and loaded onto a landcruiser.

Capturing the calf for transportation  The calf was loaded onto a vehicle for transport

Due to its age the calf was airlifted to Nairobi orphanage for care. The dry spell within the ecosystem usually leads to separation of mothers with calves unable to walk for long distances in search of food and water.

The calf was then flown to the Nairobi orphanage

 

Case #10 Treatment of an Injured Elephant Cow

Date27th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Gender: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Teita sisal wildlife sanctuary, Mwatate

Introduction

The elephant cow was reported to be injured with two arrow wounds on the right had side of her chest, near the area of the Teita sisal estate wildlife sanctuary, Mwatate. The Vet team rushed to the area to find the herd of elephants nearby. The elephant cow was easily spotted with the arrow injuries.

Immobilization and Treatment

16 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject dart was prepared and loaded into a dart gun. Vehicle was used to approach and dart the young Elephant. She was darted in the rump and went down on the left flank after 5 minutes. Two vehicles were used to separate her from the protective herd. Two fresh arrow heads were removed and the wound, which was cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide, doused with tincture of iodine and covered in green clay.

Removing the arrow heads and cleaning the injuries  Cleaning the arrow injuries

Long acting antibiotics and dexamethasone were administered parenterally. Anaesthesia reversal was done by administration of 48 mgs of Diprenorphine through the ear veins.

Administering long acting antibiotics

She woke up and joined the rest of the herd.

Elephant cow recovering after treatment

Prognosis is good.

 

Case#11 Rescue of an Elephant Calf in Aruba

Date: 30th October 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Gender: Male

Age: 6 months old

Location: Aruba, Tsavo East

History and treatment

A report was received from the Aruba lodge staff of an elephant calf that was abandoned and unable to wake up near the Aruba water wind mill. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant lying down and struggling to stand up.  Examination revealed it was too weak to survive alone and was transported to Voi stockade for treatment and care.

Elephant calf too weak to stand  Placing on a tarpaulin before transport

He was administered 50 % dextrose bolus IV and a further slow IV lactated ringer’s solution through the ear vein. Further administration of long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone was done.

Little calf administered with some dextrose  Some life supporting milk formula

Due to his age the calf was then airlifted to the Nairobi nursery for care. He was diagnosed with poor nutrition due to the prevailing drought conditions in Tsavo. Prognosis is guarded.

 

Case#12 Desnaring of a Waterbuck

Date: 30th October 2016

Species: Waterbuck

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Park HQ, Tsavo East

History and treatment

The waterbuck was spotted near the Voi gate with a wire snare dangling from its horns. Drugs were prepared with 6 mgs Etorphine and 40 mgs xylazine. The antelope was darted on the rump and went down after six minutes. The wire was not very tight and it was removed easily before the anaesthesia was reversed and the waterbuck walked off okay.

De-snaring of a waterbuck

Prognosis is good.

 

Other cases handled by the unit

The unit also rescued several buffalo calves found alone in Taita salt lick and Tsavo east area and took them to Voi Elephant stockade for care. All were attributed to starvation and predation of their mothers.

Acknowledgement

The unit would like to appreciate the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through theDavid 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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