THE TSAVO MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - January 2018

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Introduction

The new month of January had mixed fortunes for Tsavo Conservation Area and Amboseli National Park where this unit operated. Generally there was enough forage and water for the browsers after the December short rains that were witnessed across the region. Tsavo East National Park elephants that were greatly affected by the recent drought have since recovered and their body condition greatly improved to a body score of 4/5. Most cases attended in the month were linked to human-wildlife conflict in Amboseli area and poaching attempts within Tsavo East National Park.

Cases attended were treatment of snared buffalo within Taita salt lick sanctuary, treatment of a speared elephant bull and 2 speared elephant cows within Amboseli National park, treatment of an elephant bull with an arrow wound near Tiva River, Tsavo East and another bull with arrow wound near Manyani gate, Tsavo East. In other cases an elephant bull was saved from a tight wire snare around the neck near Satao camp in Tsavo East and elephant collaring was undertaken across Tsavo Conservation Area with a total of 20 elephants mounted with satellite linked collars for monitoring human-wildlife conflict and effects of infrastructure development on elephants.

CASE #1 TREATMENT OF A SNARED BUFFALO

Species:     Buffalo

Sex:           Male

Age:          Adult

Date:        18th January 2017

Place:       Taita Salt lick sanctuary

Introduction

A buffalo with a snare around the neck was reported by rangers from Taita salt lick sanctuary. The team rushed to find the massive bull lying down under an acacia tree with visible snare wire hanging below the neck and a cut wound around the neck. Immobilization drugs were prepared and loaded onto a dart gun.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine Hcl 8 mgs and 60 mgs of xylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Vehicle darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle the buffalo was darted and was immobilized after 6 minutes.

A buffalo with a snare around the neck was reported   the buffalo was darted and was immobilized after 6 minutes

The tight wire snare around the neck was removed. Cut wounds were cleaned using diluted hydrogen peroxide and then doused with tincture of iodine. Long acting Tetracycline and Dexamethasone were administered parenterally.

The tight wire snare around the neck was removed  Cut wounds were cleaned using diluted hydrogen peroxide

The wounds were then doused with tincture of iodine  The snare that was removed

Prognosis is good. Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine Hcl at 3 times the etorphine dose mixed with 0.5 cc Atipemazole hcl administered intravenously through the jugular vein.

CASE #2 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL

Date:  20th January 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Elerai Conservancy, Amboseli

History

Report was received from big life rangers of an injured Elephant bull within Elerai conservancy with blood oozing from the anal opening. The Vet was airlifted by DSWT chopper to the Amboseli national Park and found the bull nearby.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine 18 mgs 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Helicopter darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle the Elephant was darted and immobilized after 8 minutes and fell on the flank. There was a deep spear wound on the back near the vertebral column with blood oozing out.

There was a deep spear wound on the back near the vertebral column  The wound was washed clean with water mixed with hydrogen peroxide

The wound was washed clean with water mixed with hydrogen peroxide, necrotic tissues and pus were removed and the wound doused with tincture of iodine. Green clay was used to cover the wound. An intravenous administration of dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein. Prognosis is guarded to poor due to blood oozing from the anal opening.

An intravenous administration of dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein  Prognosis is guarded to poor due to blood oozing from the anal opening

Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the etorphine dose.

CASE #3 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT COW

Date:  20th January 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Ol Tukai Lodge, Amboseli National Park.

History

Report was received from the senior warden of an injured elephant bull within Amboseli National Park with a spear stuck on deep her forehead. With the team freshly back at DSWT HQ in Kaluku the Vet was airlifted back again to Amboseli by DSWT chopper to attend to a newly speared elephant cow.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine Hcl 18 mgs 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Helicopter darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle the Elephant was darted and immobilized after 7 minutes and fell on the flank.  There was a deeply embedded spear on the cows’ forehead that was hard to pull out. It took effort of 3 men to pull the spear out.

There was a deeply embedded spear on the cows’ forehead

Blood gushed out and was cleaned out and tincture of iodine and green clay applied. Intravenous administration of dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and long acting Amoxicillin by intramascular route. Anaesthesia was reversed by administration of diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dosage.

 It took effort of 3 men to pull the spear out  Blood gushed out and was cleaned out and tincture of iodine and green clay applied

Prognosis

Good

CASE #4 AUTOPSY OF A GIRAFFE CARCASS

Animal: Giraffe

Species: Giraffa camelopardalis

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Tsavo East

Date: 26th January

History and autopsy

The report was made by tourists of a dead giraffe carcass near Aruba Lodge. The vet team rushed to the area to ascertain the cause of death. The carcass was about three days old at mid level of decomposition. The carcass was opened and vital organs examined with no significant pathological changes observed. The death was ruled as natural.

The vet team rushed to the area to ascertain the cause of death  The report was made by tourists of a dead giraffe carcass near Aruba Lodge

 

CASE #5 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT COW

Date:  27th January 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: El Selenkei Conservancy, Amboseli National Park

History

Report was received from big life rangers of an injured elephant cow within Selenkei Conservancy near Amboseli National Park with a spear wound on the left thigh near the groin. The Vet was airlifted to Amboseli by DSWT chopper to attend to the speared elephant cow and found Big Life and KWS watching over the lone sickly elephant.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine Hcl 18 mgs in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared and the elephant was darted from foot using a Dan inject® dart rifle. It was immobilized after 6 minutes and fell on its flank. The wound was cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and doused with tincture of iodine.

 The wound was cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and doused with tincture of iodine  The wound was probed for foreign objects

Oxytetracycline spray was applied and a final cover of green clay administered. Intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and long acting Amoxicillin by intramascular route. Anaesthesia was reversed by administration of diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dosage.

Oxytetracycline spray was applied and a final cover of green clay administered  Prognosis is good

Prognosis

Good

CASE #6 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL

Date:  28th January 2018

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Manyani, Tsavo East

History

Report was received from KWS Manyani gate staff of an injured Elephant bull with hanging muscle tissues on the lower abdominal area. The Vet team drove to the area and found the bull with his partner having moved away. They were followed and found nearby.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine 18 mgs 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Vehicle darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle the elephant was darted and followed from a distance until he went down on lateral recumbency after 8 minutes. There was a deep penetrating wound on the lower abdominal area with hanging necrotic tissues and pus oozing out.

an injured Elephant bull with hanging muscle tissues on the lower abdominal area  The big bull was immobilised for treatment

Large chunks of necrotic tissues were cut out, the wound washed clean using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide, necrotic tissues and pus were removed then the wound doused with tincture of iodine. Green clay was used to cover the wound. Long acting antibiotics were administered IM and dexamethasone Hcl given IV through the ear.

The dead and hanging tissues were removed   Large chunks of necrotic tissues were cut out

Reversal

Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the etorphine dose and the Elephant stood up and walked away.

The wound was then cleaned with Hydrogen peroxide  It was packed with green clay and sprayed with antiseptic

Prognosis

Good

CASE #7 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL

Date:      31st January 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Tiva River, Tsavo East

History

Report was received from DSWT patrol aeroplane of an injured elephant bull within in Tundani area of Tsavo East near Tiva River with an injury. The Vet team was airlifted by KWS chopper that was doing collaring in the area to attend to the case. The chopper was directed by DSWT patrol aeroplane to the location of the injured bull.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine 18 mgs 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Vehicle darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle the elephant was darted and was immobilized after 7 minutes and went down on sterna recumbency. The elephant was pushed to lateral recumbency. There were two arrow wounds on the left side of the body, one near the inquinal area and the other on the lower chest area behind the left front limb. The wounds were washed clean with water mixed with hydrogen peroxide, necrotic tissues and pus removed then doused with tincture of iodine. Medicinal green clay was used to cover the wound. An intravenous administration of dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and long acting antibiotics administered by intramascular injections.

There were two arrow wounds on the left side of the body  Both wounds were treated by the vet unit

Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the etorphine dose.

Prognosis

Good

CASE #8 TREATMENT OF A SNARED ELEPHANT BULL

Date:      31st January 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History

The elephant bull was first reported by Tsavo Trust team who were patrolling the area but couldn’t be attended the same day as it was late in the evening. The next morning the Vet driver patrolled the area and found young bull together with six other bulls browsing near Satao camp and called the vet. We rushed to the area with KWS chopper and easily found the car and the elephant.

Immobilization and treatment

A dart was prepared and loaded with 18mgs of etorphine after which the bull was darted from a chopper. He was immobilized in 6 minutes. A tight deeply cutting wire snare which went round the neck and could have killed the elephant was cut loose.

A tight deeply cutting wire snare which went round the neck  A tight deeply cutting wire snare which went round the neck

Pus, dirt debris and necrotic tissues were cleaned off, the wound cleaned by use of hydrogen peroxide mixed with water, doused with tincture of iodine and sprayed with oxytetracycline spray. Wetted green clay applied to aid wound healing and keeps away dirt and flies. Long acting antibiotics and dexamethasone Hcl were administered parenterally. Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the Etorphine dose.

 Pus, dirt debris and necrotic tissues were cleaned off  Wetted green clay applied to aid wound healing and keeps away dirt and flies

Prognosis

Good

CASE #9 TSAVO ELEPHANT COLLARING EXERCISE

Elephant collaring funded by Save the Elephants was undertaken across Tsavo Conservation Area. Twenty elephants split evenly between males and females were mounted with web linked collars for monitoring purposes. The aim of the collaring was to understand and map out effects of human-wildlife conflict and infrastructure development on elephant populations. The exercise took 5 days with the elephants being immobilized as per KWS veterinary protocols by vets and scientists. The exercise ran smoothly and in record time.

The collared elephants were distributed as below.

1. TSAVO WEST (Finch Hattons) ..........................A bull and a cow were collared

2. TSAVO WEST ( Mutito/Kaluku triangle area).......2 bulls and a cow were collared.

3. TSAVO WEST (Jipe) ...........................................2 cows and a bull were collared

4. TSAVO EAST (Sagalla ranch)..............................A bull and a cow were collared

5. TSAVO EAST (Teita sisal/Kamtonga)...................A bull and a cow were collared

6. TSAVO EAST (Taita ranch)...................................A bull and a cow were collared

7. TSAVO EAST (Rukinga ranch).............................A bull and a cow were collared

8. TSAVO EAST (Satao/Dakota)..............................A bull and a cow were collared

9. TSAVO EAST (Sala gate area)............................ A bull and a cow were collared

 

Other activities undertaken

The unit examined several wildlife trophies/parts and produced expert reports to aid in prosecution of the offenders in court and testified in court on the same.

Acknowledgement

The unit acknowledges the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their immense financial contribution to the unit.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo Conservation Area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their support.

 

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