THE AMBOSELI MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - November 2017

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As the month came to an end, the rains arrived sporadically making some areas greener than others. This allowed a reprieve for the both wild and domestic animalswhich had initiallydispersed into smaller groups as they searched for the best vegetation, but towards the end of the month the unit witnessed the migration of many animals to where vegetation regeneration was at its best within the ecosystem.

Within these large assemblies especially of elephants very young calves could be spotted clinging close to their mothers a sign that populations are being replenished. This is encouraging following deaths witnessed as a result ofthe devastating drought which had hit the area.

Following are veterinary activities attended to during the month; 

1. ELEPHANT POSTMORTEM

Date: 16/11/2017

Species: Elephant

Sex:  Female

Age: Adult

Location:EnkongumaOldepe; Amboseli Ecosystem

History

A report of a dead adult female elephant was received by the Unit vet from the Park Community Warden. The Mobile Vet Unit visited the scene for examination.

Postmortem observations

The carcass was found on sternal recumbence.  Herders had initially discovered the carcass and by the time we visited the carcass the ivory had already been retrieved by KWS for documentation, safe custody and for onward transmission.

General observation depicted struggle as the animal tried to get up. Presumably it was too weak to get up and instead died in that posture. Bony prominences were very obvious especially of the scapular and pelvis. Generally, the carcass had poor muscle cover depicting emaciation.

Elephant looked like it has died in the position found  The elephant had little muscle cover and looked emaciated

Postmortem Diagnosis

Tentatively the elephant succumbed to the drought witnessed especially within that locality which has claimed several elephants.  The area is currently receiving rains but vegetation is yet to regenerate substantially.

 

2. ELEPHANT POSTMORTEM

Date: 18/11/2017

Species: Elephant  

Sex:  Male

Age: Juvenile

Location:Olmoti; Amboseli Ecosystem

History

Report of a young elephant carcass was received from Amboseli Park Community Warden. It was said to have been spotted by herders. The Mobile Vet Unit set out to establish the tentative cause of death.

Postmortem observations

We drove to Olmoti area where we joined the game scout who led the way up the hill on foot to where the carcass was. The carcass was of a young juvenile male. It was on right lateral recumbence and it was about three or four days old. It had been predated on partially and decomposition was heavy. Both tusks were still there.

Elephant calf had been scavenged upon  Body was a few days old and though to be drought victim

Due to advanced decomposition no meaningful postmortem examination could be carried out. Trophies were pulled out of their sockets and handed over to Amboseli National Park armory for inventory, safe custody and onward transmission to central armory.

Postmortem Diagnosis

This juvenile elephant was presumed to have died of adverse effect of drought. Within the same area several elephants had succumbed to the same like the case above. Hopefully the rains currently being experienced will avert the effect.

 

3. SURVEILLANCE IN KIMANA SANCTUARY

Date: 21/11/2017

Location:Kimana Sanctuary; Amboseli Ecosystem

History

Amboseli ecosystem has been adversely affected by the ending dry spell. Many have perished in devastating hunger as there was hardly any browse to support life.

Kimana Sanctuary lies between Amboseli and Chyulu Parks on the way to Tsavo West. It forms a migratory stopover for reenergizing and rest while on transit. This is favored by relatively good climate which enables it to have tall acacia trees with good undergrowth even when other areas are adversely affected.

This was witnessed recently as the savannah looked impeccably green in comparison with other areas which are yet to have rain. Though there were a few old carcasses within the sanctuary,the animals remaining showed good health.

Kimana observation

It was encouraging as we carried out the patrol to come across a large group of elephants of all ages at the edge of the sanctuary. Very young calves could be observed as they stuck close to their mothers’ side as they walked along close to one another. It was a sign of hope that despite some vanishing in ending drought, population build up was an assurance.

Kimana observation  Healthy big bulls in Kimana

During the patrol we were accompanied by the second in-charge of resident security team who led us throughout all corners of the Sanctuary. For now the animals can have ample time as they browse within the sanctuary as the rest of ecosystem vegetation regenerates.

 

4. RHINO EAR NOTCHING

Date: 24-27/11/2017

Species: Black Rhinos

Sex:  8 Males, 2 Female

Age: Sub-adults and Adults

Location:Ngulia Sanctuary and IPZ; Tsavo West National Park

History

The Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit was requested by the Capture Warden to join the Ear Notching Team which had camped at Ngulia Sanctuary. The exercise was aimed at marking the rhinos for monitoring and accountability. More importantly the exercise served as a chance to help find and desnare a male adult in IPZ which had been taken by camera trap on two incidences depicting a snare on the neck on 26/9/2017 and 1/10/2017. The desnaring exercise had been attempted more than twice all in vain.

Exercise

During the exercise a total of ten black rhinos were ear notched adding to fourteen which had been done earlier. The target was 12 rhinos in the Sanctuary and 10 in IPZ but each yielded twelve which was over hundred percent expectation.

Each animal was quickly ear notched with a predetermined number and pattern with IPZ candidates being mounted with transmitters in their horns and solar powered satellite ear tags because of the vast area they are in. All were fitted with skin and horn transponders also. An electric drill was used to make holes in the horns for transmitters and transponders while the transponders were inserted into skin by the use of needles. Necessary bio data concerning the measurements, GPS coordinates, health status and any other relevant information was recorded in printed forms. Samples taken included the skin tissue, whole blood, horn and toe/hoof horny tissues for genetic profiling and/or hematology.

Ear notching rhinos  Rhino after ear notching

Candidates Ear Notched

Date

Location

GPS

Sex

Status

24/11/2017

Ngulia Sanctuary

37M 0416679 9666332

Male

Healthy

37M 0413296 9671165

Male

Healthy

24/11/2017

IPZ

37M 0405295 9662231

Male

Snared

37M 0417759

9664071

Male

Healthy

26/11/2017

37M 0410640 9674050

Female

Healthy

37M 0409611 9671145

Male

Healthy

37M 0410379 9670109

Female

Healthy

27/11/2017

Ngulia Sanctuary

37M 0415063 9669197

Male

Healthy

37M 0415363 9665255

Male

Healthy

37M 0416644 9670472

Male

Healthy


The snared rhino was also successfully tracked and treated.  It had winch snare wire around the neck which had caused a traumatic wound around the neck with the other end of the snare dangling downwards. It was stepping on the hanging end on ambulation making it reluctant to move due to resultant pain on the neck.

Upon immobilization, the snare wire was severed with wire cutters and quickly the wound was cleaned using Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine.. Wet green clay was smeared carefully and generously on the wound starting with the right side and then left side after turning the animal onto sternum.

Cutting think wire snare from rhino

Topically the wound was sprayed with Tetracycline wound spray liberally. It was covered systematically with 15000mgs Amoxicillin, 100mlCyanocobalamine and 100mgsFlunixine Meglumine at different muscle sites.

Its prognosis was rated as favorable because it had not lost itsbody condition noticeably and that it went through the anesthesia smoothly.

A review would be between 14 and 21 days if necessary meanwhile the sighting was recommended at least once every week so as to record progress.

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