THE MARA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - July 2017

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Introduction

With the annual wildebeest migration taking place, the Masai Mara is receiving many tourists to witness the spectacle. Much of the conservation area has been occupied by these herbivores with most elephants moving out of the reserve into community areas and conservancies free of the migrating wildebeests. There have been sporadic showers with adequate water, grazing and browsing for wild animals.

Reports from the analysis of samples from the two elephants that died mysteriously in the Nguruman area early April indicated exposure to cyhalothrin which is a synthetic pyrethroid used as pesticide/insecticide and may have contributed to their deaths.

The following cases were handled during the period under review;

 

1. INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 9th July 2017

Species: African elephant

Age: Young adult

Sex: Female

Location: Olarro Conservancy

History

Olarro Conservancy manager called to report an adult female elephant limping on her right rear leg. She was among hundreds of elephant herds that recently moved into the conservancy.

General observation

This female, about 15 years old was seen in a big herd walking with difficulty. Her body condition appeared good. A decision to immobilise her for further examination was arrived at.

Adult female elephant spotted limping  She was spotted among her herd

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Restraint was achieved chemically by use of 13mgs etorphine hydrochloride delivered remotely through a 1.5ml daninject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle and the small family from the big herd was isolated and pushed to an open area. It took ten minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the elephant going recumbent.

Darting the cow elephant for treatment  Examining the arrowhead protruding from the wound

Examination revealed an arrowhead lodged on the caudal aspect of her right heel. This appeared to have been in place for about three days. The barbed arrow was gently worked out and resultant wound debrided with hydrogen peroxide, rinsed with clean water before tincture of iodine being applied. Green clay was then packed and oxytetracycline wound spray applied topically.

Removing the arrowhead  Packing the wound with green clay to prevent infection

Additional treatments include parenteral administration of 15000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic and 5000mgs flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory.

Reversal

Achieved by intravenous administration of 36mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride through a prominent ear vein. She woke up in three minutes to join the rest of the herd.

Prognosis

This elephant is expected to make full recovery.

 

2. RE-TREATMENT OF INJURED LION

Date: 10th July 2017

Species: African lion

Sex: Male

Age: Young adult

Location: Mara North Conservancy

History

This lion had been treated the previous month for severe injuries after engaging in a territorial fight with other males. He sustained serious wounds which became septic leading to generalized septicaemia. Follow up treatment was needed to improve his chances of recovery.

General observation.

This lion had moved some distance from where he was treated first. He showed some improvements but with difficulty moving around. He was still limping from injuries sustained on both of his hind legs.

Immobilization, Examination and treatment.  

Immobilization was achieved by use of a combination of 240mgs Ketamine hydrochloride and 6mgs medetomidine delivered through a 3ml daninject dart.Darting was done from a vehicle.It took this lion eight minutes to be fully anaesthetized. He was placed under a shade in a comfortable position before commencement of examination.

Darting the lion for treatment  Preparing for treatment

Examination revealed all the wounds were clean and free of any discharges. Dilute hydrogen peroxide was applied to the wounds to further clean them then rinsed with clean water and wiped dry. Tincture of iodine and cloxacillin ointment were then applied. Green clay was finally packed into the open wounds.

Examining the wounds  No infection was found in any of the wounds

Additional treatments given include intramuscular administration of 3000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic and 20mgs dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory.

Reversal

Done one hour after immobilization by use of 20mgs atepamezole hydrochloride given intramuscularly to shoulder muscles.He woke up within ten minutes of reversal.

Reversing the anesthetic  Fully recovered from the treatment

Prognosis.

Good. Follow up report indicates he has greatly improved and has joined his brothers. He was recently spotted feeding on a wildebeest kill with the brothers having moved a long distance from where he was last treated.

 

3. REMOVAL OF A SNARE FROM A ZEBRA

Date: 11th July 2017

Species: Common zebra

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Olare –Motorogi conservancy

History

This zebra in a group of other zebras was seen by the conservancy rangers on their normal patrols. She had a slightly strangulating wire round her neck. They called the veterinary unit for assistance.

General observation

She was found in an open area with other zebras with a visible shiny plain wire round her neck. She was nervous and the wire snare appeared to irritate her.

Zebra spotted among its herd  Darting the zebra for treatment

Immobilization, examination and de-snaring

Restraint was achieved chemically by use of a combination of 5mgs etorphine hydrochloride and 50mgs azaperone delivered in a 1.5ml daninject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle.It took five minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the zebra assuming sternal recumbency. The plain wire which appeared to have been in place for approximately one week was removed. No serious wounds were seen but she was treated for abrasions on the neck caused by the wire by topical oxytetracycline spray application.

Succumbing to the anesthetic  Removing the snare

Reversal

Achieved by intravenous administration of 18mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride. This was given through the jugular vein.

She woke up within two minutes of reversal to join the rest of the zebras grazing.

Prognosis

Good.

 

4. TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT AND HER CALF

Date: 12th July 2017

Species: African elephant

Age: Adult female and 4-month-old calf

Sex: Calf (Male)

Location: Mara triangle conservancy

History

This elephant was seen with a group of eight other elephants assumed to be members of one family by Mara triangle management. She was the matriarch of the family but limping on her left front quarter. They called the veterinary unit for intervention.

General observation

They were found drinking water from Mara River and when agitated, she moved with limp signifying pain on her left front quarter.

Elephant cow and her calf in their herd  The elephant was seen to be limping

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of 15mgs etorphine hydrochloride delivered through a 1.5ml daninject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle with the drugs taking full effect after eight minutes. She had a young calf who remained behind with her when the other family members moved. The baby was physically withdrawn from underneath the mother when the drugs had taken effect just before going down. No physical injury was seen upon examination, but notable swelling was evident between the shoulder and elbow. Further examination did not provide evidence of fracture and this was tentatively taken as sprain or strain on either or both of the joints.

Examining the area of discomfort

She was continuously massaged for ten minutes, given 5000mgs flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory and 15000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic intramuscularly.

While physically restraining the calf, it was discovered he had a big abscess on the dorsal aspect of the base of his tail. This was lanced and effectively drained. Hydrogen peroxide was used to debride before tincture of iodine and cloxacillin ointment being applied. He then received intramuscular injection of 3000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic and 1000mgs flunixin meglumine.

Treating the abscess on the calf  Elephant calf after treatment

Reversal

The mother was reversed by intravenous administration of 42mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride given through a prominent ear vein. Towards, recovery of the mother, the calf was released and she joined their family members standing a few meters away. The mother rose up to link up with the other members of the family and her calf.

Reversing the anesthetic

Prognosis

Good for both.

 

5. ELEPHANT COW COLLARING

Date: 23rd July 2017

Species: African elephant

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Mara Triangle Conservancy

History

After a recent incident in which elephants near an escarpment in Mara Triangle moved to community crop areas resulting to spearing and death of one elephant, KWS, Mara Elephant Project and Mara Triangle management agreed to deploy a collar to one member of the herd for monitoring purposes. The collar is meant to track the movement of the herd and help security in minimizing human elephant conflicts.

Elephant cow found with her herd in a thicket

Immobilization and collar deployment

A good candidate, who was second in command was identified for collar deployment. They were found in a small thicket at the base of the escarpment. She was immobilized with 15mgs etorphine hydrochloride delivered through a 1.5ml daninject dart from a vehicle. It took seven minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the elephant assuming left lateral recumbency. The satellite/GSM collar was quickly deployed and its soundness confirmed before the elephant being revived. Health status of the elephant was also checked as the collar was being deployed. She was in perfect condition.

Collar being applied to the elephant

Reversal

Achieved by intravenous administration of 42mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride through a prominent ear vein.

She woke up within three minutes of reversal to join the rest of the herd. 

 

6. REMOVAL OF A SNARE FROM A ZEBRA

Date: 25th July 2017

Species: Common zebra

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve (KWS Research Station)

History

This zebra was among several other zebras who recently came to KWS research station within the Reserve together with the wildebeests. She is thought to be among the migratory group of zebras from Serengeti. She was seen near KWS research station limping by the veterinary team and was immediately immobilized for examination.

Zebra darted for treatment  Succumbing to the anesthetic

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of a combination of 5mgs etorphine hydrochloride and 50mgs azaperone tartarate delivered through a 1.5ml daninject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle. It took four minutes for the drugs to take full effect and she assumed left lateral recumbency.

Preparing for treatment  The wound from the snare

Examination revealed a deeply embedded barbed wire round the fetlock of her right hind leg. The snare could have been in place for a long time possibly a month or more given that it was already buried in tissues. This snare was removed and resultant wound cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, clean water and disinfected with tincture of iodine. Oxytetracycline wound spray was then applied topically. Additional treatments include parenteral administration of 3000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic and 1000mgs flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory.

Removing the snare  The vet holding the snare

Wounds after treatment  Snare wounds after treatment

Reversal

Achieved by intravenous administration of 18mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride through the jugular vein.

She woke up within two minutes of reversal to join the other zebra herds.

Reversing the anesthetic  Walking away from the treatment

Prognosis

Good.

 

7. TREATMENT OF A CHEETAH

Date: 25th July 2017

Species: Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Sex: Female

Age: Young adult

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve

History

This cheetah christened Malkia is the daughter of the famous Malaika who until now is a favourite attraction among visitors in the reserve. She was seen with difficulty walking by the reserve rangers who informed the unit for intervention. This was an acute problem given that she was seen hunting a few days before.

General observation

Malkia was seen under a small thicket with bright face but difficulty in trying to walk. She could barely stand and any attempt to move forward proved difficult as she swayed with signs of posterior ataxia. This was a bilateral problem as both hind legs were affected. Fortunately, this was not complete paralysis and she could perform vital physiological functions like defaecation and micturition. A decision to immobilise her for further assessment was arrived at.

Malkia the cheetah found under a small thicket

Immobilization, examination and treatment

She was chemically restrained by use of a combination of 1.5mgs medetomidine and 130mgs ketamine hydrochloride delivered through a 3ml daninject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle. Induction time was seven minutes and anaesthesia was smooth.

Examination revealed no obvious injury along the spine and in any of the hindlegs. This was considered to be a deep routed problem along the spine at the lumbar region leading to impairment of nerve supply to the hind legs. The injury could have resulted in pinching of nerves at this point through oedema (swelling) or haematoma. No fracture was detected on deep palpation. All physiological parameters were within range and infection was considered a remote possibility.

Examining her spine and hips  Giving Malkia a thorough examination

Treatment instituted involved administration of 12mgs dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory to reduce any swelling, Butosal which is a drug to improve nerve and muscle tonicity was also administered. She also received 1200mgs amoxicillin antibiotic all given intramuscularly.

Reversal

Achieved by intramuscular administration of 7.5mgs atepamezole hydrochloride one hour after immobilization. She woke up within five minutes and was stable after fifteen minutes.

Revering the anesthetic after having found no broken bones  Waking from the treatment

Prognosis

Fair. She was seen a day later in a better situation able to stand and walk. However constant monitoring was advised until she fully recovers. 

 

8. INJURED LION 

Date: 27th July 2017

Species: African lion

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve (Double Cross)

History

This old male christened Blackie with his brother are known to have established a territory around Double Cross area within the Reserve. They are among the famous and formidable male coalitions within Masai Mara.

Blackie, while defending his territory from invading males got serious injuries along his spine and hind legs leaving him recumbent for some hours. The reserve management, having been notified by tourists called the veterinary unit for intervention.

General observation

Blackie was found near a Lugga and a short distance from his brother who was with some females thought to be members of the same pride. He was lying under a shade with visible injuries. When agitated, he stood and walked with difficulty.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Restraint was achieved chemically by use of a combination of 250mgs ketamine and 6mgs medetomidine delivered through a 3ml daninject dart. Darting was done from a vehicle. It took ten minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the lion assuming sternal recumbency. He was taken into a shade, cloxacillin ointment infused into the eyes to prevent desiccation and blindfold put in place. He was made to lie comfortably on his side with examination revealing several bite wounds from other lions, deeper one seen at the lumbar section of his spine. He had bite wounds on both of his hind legs and right shoulder also. These wounds were about 24hours old and were relatively fresh.

Treating Blackie's wounds  Administering an antibiotic

All wounds were debrided with hydrogen peroxide and rinsed with clean water. After wiping with sterile gauze, tincture of iodine and cloxacillin ointment were infused.

Additional treatments include parenteral administration of 3000mgs amoxicillin antibiotic, 80mgs ivermectin parasiticide and 20mgs dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory.

Reversal

Achieved by intramuscular administration of 15mgs atepamezole hydrochloride one hour after immobilization. He woke up within seven minutes of reversal and moved towards where the other pride members were.

Waking after treatment  Walking away with a good prognosis

Prognosis

Good.

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