THE AMBOSELI MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - August 2017

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Introduction

The month of August has been characterized by the exodus of wild animals particularly elephants from the swamps to wander in conservancies where they can get variable trees and shrubs to browse on. Thus, their numbers in the park is dwindling day by day. Other medium and small grazers have been seen to concentrate within the wet and swampy areas for what appears to be their delicacy at this particular hard time. Climate has been extremely dry with alternate hot and cold moments surmounted by frequent strong dusty winds. The park seems to be the quenching point for domestic animals as the ecosystem boils in strong sun and dry cold winds. 

During the month human-wildlife conflict signs were noticeable. This varied from spear injuries to predation. Other cases included the capture and translocation of an orphan in Tsavo East and alsoa snake which had caused panic and fear among the herders at Satao Elerai.

Following are veterinary activities attended to during the month;

 

1. INJURED LION

Date: 02/08/2017

Species: Lion    

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location:  Tsavo East National Park

History

The Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit was informed of an injured lion at Gutuni Lodge by DSWT chopper pilot Mr. Payne on 1/8/2017. The injury was attributed by being tossedby a buffalo following an unsuccessful hunting mission. It was late in the afternoon thus an arrangement was made for the vet to be picked by DSWT fixed wing on Sky Vet Initiative early on 2/8/2017 from Amboseli Park Headquarters Airstrip. This mission was also planned to accommodate another case of an injured male elephant which had been spotted earlier on previous day at Satao Lodge.

Approaching Gutuni Lodge  The injured lion under the lodge

Immobilization

It was darted using 375mgs Ketamine mixed with 4mgs Medetomidine. It was fully immobilized in six minutes. It was approached carefully and pinched on the right hind toes to establish how deep the sedation was. It was good enough to allow manipulation during examination.

Darting the lion for treatment  The lion succumbing to the anesthetic

Examination

Clearly visible were numerous skin puncture wounds of varying sizes with a seemingly extensive open wound on left hind limb at genu joint posteriorly. Other wounds were situated on gluteal muscles and all were discharging foul smelly straw discharges.

Analyzing the lions injuries  Extensive injuries to the rear

Diagnosis and discussion

The lion had been injured severely during the hunting mission by buffalo horn which completely disintegrated the joint components. This further increased the vulnerability of the lion to the territorial fights because of the incapacitation.

Prognosis and Conclusion

Due to poor prognosis, a decision to put it down was made in order to alleviate further suffering considering the nature of injuries sustained. It was humanely put down and handed over to Tsavo East National Park administration to harness the trophies and onward transmission.

Joint completely disintegrated  Decision to euthanize the lion

 

2. ELEPHANT TREATMENT

Date: 02/08/2017

Species: Elephant      

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location:  Tsavo East National Park

History

This was the second case after the lion case above. It was attended through Sky Vet Initiative.  The elephant was found accompanied by three other males and was resting under tree shade near dry river bed.

Immobilization

Immobilization was attained by use of three centiliter dart which contained 18mgsEtorphine topped up with water for injection. It was approached using vehicle.  The left ear was used to cover the left eye from direct sun light and the distal end of trunk was kept open by use of a piece of stick put across the nares.

Elephant found resting in the shade  Darting from a vehicle

Examination

The discharging wound on the mid left abdominal area had a canal leading rostrodorsal about fifteen centimeters deep and a dead space of about half a litre filled with tenacious gray pus. This was established after probing using long forceps to establish whether there was any foreign body. This was a clear arrow wound and was more than two weeks old. It was just under the skin thus little damage to underneath abdominal muscles

The discharging wound  The infected pouch was drained and rinsed

Treatment

The pouch was drained by pressing followed by thorough cleaning using Hydrogen Peroxide and rinsed with Tincture of Iodine. Cloxacillin5mgs antibiotic cream was infiltrated into the canal followed by generous packing of green wet clay into the pouch to encourage tissue regeneration. It was covered systemically with 15000mgs Amoxicillin into gluteal muscles. Dart wound was infiltrated with 5gms of Cloxacilin antibiotic cream to cater for any sepsis and right eye to prevent damage.

Walking away after treatment  Walking away from the treatment

Prognosis

This was projected as good because the injury was sub-dermal and was effectively drained and cleaned.

 

3. ELEPHANT TREATMENT

Date: 03/08/2017

Species: Elephant      

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location:  Kimana Sanctuary

History

The Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit was notified of an injured elephant by the sanctuary rangers who encountered it while on normal patrol. It was reported as having a bloody discharge from the injury on the left side of left hind limb. We quickly set out on a mission to intervene.

Locating the injured bull among others  The bloody discharge was spotted on his hind limb

Immobilization

It was found in company of several bulls among whom was Tim. It was darted using 15mgsEtorphine and 1000 I.U Hyaluronidase. After eight minutes it fell down on right recumbence but quickly got up and remained static resisting to lie down by spreading its limbs apart to increase stability.  On the tenth minute three milligrams of Etorphine were injected into thigh muscle by hand. It assumed sternal recumbences after two minutes. It was pushed to right lateral recumbence by use of rope passing on the left head side and being pulled by eight men.

Darting for treatment  Succumbing to the anesthetic

Pushing to right lateral recumbence

Examination

The injury appeared to have been caused by spear on the left ischium area. The discharge was both mixture of flank blood and gray thick pus. It depicted an old wound but with fresh irritation thus bloody discharge. This was probed for foreign body and depth. No foreign body was discovered and depth was about thirteen centimeters deep near the bony prominence.

Injury probed for foreign body

Treatment

Both wounds were thoroughly drained by pressing out the pus, followed by plenty of Hydrogen Peroxide and Tincture of Iodine. Each was infiltrated with 3000mgs Amoxicillin followed by liberal packing of green clay to enhance healing. Antibiosis was achieved by use of 24000mgs Amoxicillin into different muscle sites, 100mgs Dexamethasone slowly into ear vein and 50ml of Cyanocobalamin as metabolic stimulant.

Injury cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide  Tincture of iodine applied

Wound packed with green clay to enhance healing

Prognosis

This was placed as fair and will be revised after review which will be between tenth and fifteenth day if sighted.

Reversing the anesthetic  Recovering from the treatment and walking away

4. ELEPHANT CAPTURE

Date: 05/08/2017

Sex: Male

Age: Juvenile

Location:  Tsavo East National Park

History and plan

A call was received on 3/08/2017 concerning three elephant orphans which had strayed far off from Ithumba stockade about two months earlier. This was as a result ofthe older orphan having led the others away failing to return from the usual days browse. The orphans were monitored as from 3rd to 5th when an opportunity for capture of the weakest looking of the orphans was possible. Everything from equipment and personnel was assembled from Kaluku to an open savannah so as to embark on the exercise. The aim was to capture the orphan using sedatives, load it into suitable carrier vehicle and translocate it back to Ithumba.

Helicopter to assist with the rescue  Preparing the helicopter to assist with the rescue

Immobilization

It was darted using 5mgsEtorphine and 1000 I.U Hyaluronidase after forcing them near to the road by chopper where the ground team was. It was down on left recumbence in five minutes and the older counterpart kept guard by the side. The darted orphan was secured ready for loading into the waiting open land cruiser pick-up. Meanwhile the vet was dropped by chopper at an appropriate location where he was picked up by a vehicle and taken to the loading site to coordinate the exercise.

Loading and Journey

Vital parameters were being monitored every ten minutes to ensure the orphan was well. It was loaded into the land cruiser. The vet in company with rangers and keepers kept a keen watch and monitoring during the more than two hours long and dusty journey. The orphan was placed on left lateral recumbence in a stockade and the limbs were unsecured ready to reverse the narcosis. It was up strongly in one minute and staggered in attempt to orient itself. Keepers armed with milk replacer called out its name and immediately rewarded it with a bottle of replacer which it drunk quickly. It went for pellets grabbing them by its trunk and putting them into mouth chewing as it inspected the boma. Attendants and other keepers were instructed to move back and left two to avoid unnecessary stress. It calmed down and water was dowsed on its body.It had to be monitored closely over night and on the following morning it was visited and found to have settled into the boma completely.

Dupotto in the back of the vehicle  Dupotto safely back in her stockade

  

The oldest orphan was monitored to ascertain whether capture was necessary. But it was expected to acclimatize and be accommodated well by wild counterparts as it already had more experience in the wild before its rescue. The third orphan returned to the stockade approximately 2 weeks later in good condition.

Dupotto placed in her stockade  Dupotto getting up in her stockade

Relaxing in her old surroundings at Ithumba  Dupotto going for milk

Prognosis

Good because it had settled well with no accompanying complication.

 

5. PYTHON CAPTURE

Date: 15/08/2017

Species: Rock Python    

Sex: Female

Age: Juvenile

Location:  Satao Elerai Community Conservancy

History

Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit was informed of an engorged python within the conservancy by Amboseli National Park Camp Sargent. It was alluded that the herders who are Maasai wanted to kill it alleging that it had swallowed one of their young goats. Immediately we set out to rescue the reptile.

Immobilization and Capture

The reptile was found under shelter of a thorny shrub where it had taken refuge following the eminent threat. The residents had hauled pieces of dry sticks/woods and stones onto it in attempt to revenge. The thicket was severed using a machete in order to expose it to initiate capture. This exposed the tail and after drugging it out of the thicket, head was immobilized using a ‘Y’ stick just behind its’ mandible. Hand was used to grab its neck and the other hand used to lift its’ tail. It was secured in a nylon sac safely for transport and release away from people habited area.

Locating the reptile in a thorny shrub  Extracting the snake from the shrub

Head immobilized using a Y stick  Carrying the snake away

Release

The serpent was released in Tsavo West National Park on 17/08/2017 while on another mission involving an injured Maasai giraffe calf. The sac was untied and the serpent let off the sac. Several samples were taken including whole blood and buccal swabs for future use. It was approximated to be about fifteen kilograms.

Blood samples taken  Snake put into a sack to be relocated

Snake upon release  Making its way for cover in a rocky area

 

6. INJURED GIRAFFE

Date: 17/08/2017

Species: Maasai Giraffe    

Sex: Female

Age: Calf

Location:  Tsavo West National Park

History

The report of an injured young giraffe at Finch Hatton Lodge in Tsavo West National Park was on the evening of 16/08/2017

Immobilization

The giraffe had been spotted the previous evening being unable to walk even after being lifted from the ground and had wounds on the head. It was found lying down on a rocky area with its breathing shallow and rapid. It was not strong enough to put up any defense on examination.

Walking to where the giraffe was reported lying down  Finding the baby giraffe lying on the rocks

Examination

It was observed that it was barely a week old. The left ossicle was missing and on its’ location leaving dry cranial frontal bone. The left ear was mutilated and heavily infested with maggots. The head was held tilted to the left side. Attempt to lift it up to stand on its own was positive but it kept on circling to the left side.

Deep wounds to the scull  Left ossicle missing

Prognosis and Conclusion

It was concluded as having a poor prognosis. This was informed by the obvious injury to the brain as depicted by circling. It was observed that the injuries on cranium could have been precipitated by a blow on the head having fallen over considering the rocky terrain. This blow is thought to have caused incapacitation hence the calf could not recover giving hyenas a chance to chew off the ossicles and mutilate the ear. The ear was invaded by traumatic Myiasis. To alleviate further pain the calf was euthanized and post mortem done.

Postmortem Findings

It was established that the traumatic myiasis had not reached the inner ear and that the brain had no cerebral spinal fluid and a blood clot was recovered instead.  It had two punctures on the cortex corresponding to the two externally observed fenestrae. The brain had necrotized massively under the cortex on areas adjacent to the blood clot and underneath up to brain stem. Prognosis was irreversible brain damage 

Blood clot found in the post mortem

 

7. SEARCH FOR INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 19/08/2017

Species: Elephant    

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location:  Chyulu Hills National Park

History

The report of a speared elephant was made to the Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit in the evening of 18/08/2017 by DSWT Chopper pilot. The vet was required on the following day to travel to Kiboko so that a timely intervention could be effected once the elephant was spotted. The search parties were Big Life Foundation Rangers from Sultan area where the elephant was suspected to have been speared, the Kibwezi DSWT De-snaring Unit and DSWT fixed wing from Kaluku DSWT Airfield.

On the morning of 19thtwo groups of families were spotted by help of the fixed wing and a verification done by ground team on foot because of rough unmotorable terrain all in vain.The exercise was rescheduled for the following day. The vet remained on standby. On the following day the 20/08/2017 the vet was informed by Big Life Foundation that a similar injured elephant had been spotted around OldonyoWuas Lodge but quickly went into thick bushes. By 22/08/2017 the said elephant had not resurfaced and the Vet Unit remains on high alert if by any chance positive the elephant emerges.

 

8. INJURED LION

Date: 20/08/2017

Species: Lion    

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location:  Amboseli National Park

History

While the vet Unit was away on 19/08/2017 following up on a speared elephant at Kiboko, it was notified by Amboseli Community Warden of an injured lion at Amboseli National Park.

The search was mounted by the vet unit together with a patrol team in Amboseli. All possible locations were explored and searched extensively. It had been reported as showing territorial fight injuries. This could have been the case because during the search several mating couples were spotted and verified. All lions sighted on that particular day were all healthy enjoying breeding. Several tour drivers confirmed having spotted it the previous day but none confessed as having seen it on search day.

Only lions found were healthy  Healthy mating lions

The Vet Unit will remain on high alert just in case the report is made so that an intervention can be done.

 

9. SPEARED BUFFALO

Date: 21/08/2017

Species: Buffalo    

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location:  Amboseli National Park

History

A report concerning a buffalo with a spear dangling from its left abdominal side was made to Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit by the Warden of Tourism while on park patrol. An intervention ensued immediately.

Immobilization

It was darted using 10mgsEtorphine and 180mgs Azaperone after waiting for it to be out of the swampy area.  It was approached from behind and ascertained that it was fully immobilized when the blind fold was placed on its head.

Buffalo found with protruding spear  Darting for treatment

Examination and treatment

There was extensive sub cutis emphysema extending from the abdominal area all the way to neck base including the upper fore limbs. The spear had entered into the mid abdominal area on the left side about forty centimeters deep.

Extracting the spear  The huge spear once removed

The wound was quickly cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide and Tincture of Iodine. 5gms Of Cloxacillin ointment was infiltrated followed by generous parking of green clay into the resultant tunnel. It was covered systemically with 15000mgs Amoxicillin and 40mgs Dexamethasone into different muscle sites.

The wound was washed with Hydrogen Peroxide  The wound was packed with green clay to assist healing

Reversal

It was quickly reversed with 80mgs Naltrexone into jugular vein and attempted to get up after three minutes. An effort to urge it up was in vain. After a deep inhalation stretching its neck and head up only to cease breathing totally.

Reversing the anesthetic  The bufflalo awoke to only sadly pass away

Postmortem

This ensued immediately. It was established that the spear penetrated into the rumen on the left side. Possibly the killer was aiming for the heart but missed. As the animal ambulated the spear kept puncturing more as depicted by three other holes on the dorsal part of the rumen.

Severe internal damage from the spear  Multiple wounds from the spear as the buffalo continued to walk

 

10. ELEPHANT TREATMENT

Date: 25/08/2017

Species: Elephant      

Sex: Female

Age: Juvenile

Location:  Amboseli National Park

History

On normal patrol duties within the park, the Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit bumped into an elephant family of seven members. We quickly noticed a discharge from one of the juvenile’s backs near the tail base. At close range we realized it was a spear wound about three days old. This called for an immediate intervention. We pulled away to pave way for dart preparation and prevent them from getting into the nearby swamp.

Encountering the herd with the injured juvenile  Darting the injured elephant

Immobilization

A dart was prepared composing of 5mgsEtorphine and 1000I.U Hyaluronidase topped up with water for injection. The counterparts didn’t react to the distraction and the candidate went down easily after five minutes. All others were scared away from the fallen candidate by use of vehicle

Examination

The spear injury was sub-dermal but about fifteen centimeters deep rostrolaterally to the right from the spine. Another cut on the distal tail was noted depicting that the spear caught the tail on the spine probably during action. No foreign object was recovered from the wound probe.

Preparing for treatment  Fresh spear wound

Treatment

Both injuries were cleaned thoroughly after probing with Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine. This was followed with generous parking of wet green clay and sprayed with Tetracycline wound spray to repel the flies. Systemically the juvenile was covered with 7500mgs Tetracycline and 40mgs of Dexamethasone followed with 50ml of Cyanocobalamin as metabolic stimulant.

Treating the tail injury  Applying green clay to assist with healing

Prognosis

Good because the wound was treated while fresh with limited sepsis.

Reversing the anesthetic  Walking away to rejoin her herd

 

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