THE MARA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - August 2007

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Introduction

During the month of August, 2007, there was an increase in the reported number of cases of snared animals in most private ranches of Naivasha area. Most of the animals affected were the common zebras, giraffes, and Elands. This could be attributed to the communities awareness of the presence  of the veterinary team in the area and quick response to reported cases of wildlife illnesses and injuries, they were therefore encouraged to report all the cases sighted for the veterinary attention.

There is also the on-going capture and translocation of wildlife from the community lands in the Naivasha area to the protected Meru National park that is aimed at restocking the park and reducing the wildlife population in some of the overpopulated private ranches and community areas. The veterinary team has continued to participate and assist in this exercise.

A case of snared Waterbuck at KWS Annex Sanctuary Naivasha

It was a case of an adult female waterbuck that had a loose wire round the neck, it was a long wire that it kept dragging on the ground as it moved and was unable to graze freely. The animal was immobilized by darting using 6mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 30mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride and it took about 5 minutes to become recumbent.

The wire was cut off then blood samples collected for diseases monitoring. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and released.

A picture of the long trailing snare  Waterbuck female once the snare was removed

Rescue of a Buffalo calf  in Naivasha.

The buffalo calf was rescued by the KWS rangers while on patrol, it was found lying unconscious in a deep trench in a flower farm. It was later brought to Naivasha station and the vet was called to attend to it. The calf was then provided with clean water orally and fresh warm cow milk. Heat was also provided because it was cold and shivering. It was also treated by antibiotics and multivitamins to cover it for opportunistic infections. The following day it recovered and was transferred to animal orphanage in Nairobi for further care.

The tiny orphaned calf  The orphaned baby buffalo is fed warm cows milk by Felix

 

 

 

Treatment and postmortem examination of a white rhino in oserian game sanctuary

The management of Oserian Game Sanctuary reported to the veterinarian that one of the 13 White rhinos in the ranch was limping and had a deep wound on the lateral and medial side of the left hind limb at the level of the tarsal joint. When the veterinarian came and observed the animal from a distance, the animal had difficulties in walking and the affected limb could not step on the ground due to intensive pain so it preferred lying down most of the time. The decision was made to immobilize the rhino for detailed examination and treatment. It was a sub-adult male that was born in 2004 and named ‘Dylan’. The animal was said to have had a fierce fight with another adult dominant bull during mating time and that was the cause of these injuries.

Chemical immobilization

It was immobilized through darting using 4.5mgs of etorphine chloride combined with 60mgs of Xylazine chloride delivered by Dan-inject remote delivery system. After darting the animal took off and went for about 200 meters then became recumbent. The eyes were then covered by a blindfold and the vital physiological parameters were recorded as follows:

Respiratory rate 7 cycles per minute, pulse rate 72 beats per minute but very weak, body temperature (taken from the rectum) 38.5 degrees Celsius. These showed that it was in a stable anaesthesia and treatment could be conducted.

Physical examination

The animal was examined and found to have two deep wounds that extended to the tarsal joint on the medial side of the left hind limb, another wound was on the lateral side and it also extended to the tibia bone. The affected limb was swollen, atrophied with some degree of haemorrhage from the wounds. When palpated, it was realized that the tibia bone was completely detached and displaced from the tarsal joint and there was a complete fracture at the epiphyseal level of the tibia and some pieces of condyle process could be picked from the wound. Most of the blood vessels and nerves on this part of the limb were injured and the lower part of the limb was numb, insensitive to pain and atrophied.

Dylan having been darted  Close up of the wound

Rolling Dylan over  The wound

 

The other injury was on the right side of the abdomen which had a deep wound that penetrated between the ribs injuring the intercostals muscles.

Treatment

The wounds were cleaned using a lot of water then thoroughly debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide and irrigated with tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray applied. Other drugs administered included 100mls of Betamox antibiotic intramuscularly, 40mgs of dexamethasone intramuscularly, 50mls of multivitamin intramuscularly and ivermectin subcutaneously.

Revival

After treatment the rhino was revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 10 mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear vein. Another 12mgsof Diprenorphine was administered intramuscularly to enhance a quick recovery from anaesthesia. It took about 2 minutes to recover from anaesthesia and it had to be assisted to rise up because the affected limb could not support the body weight.

Recommendations

It was recommended that the animal should be confined in an enclosure where it could be provided with feeds and water and be monitored regularly and treated without being immobilized. The boma was to be constructed and the rhino be moved into it as soon as the arrangements were complete.

Feed supplements such as horse cubes, sugar-cane, mineral salt licks and dried Lucerne were to be provided to the animal because it was unable to move around looking for feeds. Drinking water was also to be provided ad-libitum.

Prognosis

The chances of healing of this type of fracture are very minimal because of the massive weight of the rhino which makes it difficult to immobilize the joint when fixing a fracture. Chances of septiceamia and shock due to intensive pain were high due to bone and soft tissue injury. The wound in abdomen could lead to peritonitis. 

Repeat treatment and relocation to a boma

After the boma was constructed and arrangements complete to move the animal into a boma, the capture team being guided by two veterinarians went for the operation.

Chemical restraint

It was immobilized through darting using 4.5mgs of etorphine chloride combined with 60mgs of Xylazine chloride delivered by Dan-inject remote delivery system. The first dart did not take effect and the animal remained alert, the second dart took effect after 5 minutes and the rhino went recumbent. The vital physiological parameters were as follows:

Respiratory rate 6 cycles per minute, pulse rate was very weak and could not be picked, body temperature (taken from the rectum) 38 degrees Celsius. Nalorphine 10mgs was administered through the ear vein to improve the respiration rate.

Treatment

Treatment was repeated exactly the way it was done before. The wounds were cleaned using a lot of water then thoroughly debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide and irrigated with tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray applied. Other drugs administered included 100mls of Betamox antibiotic intramuscularly, 60mgs of dexamethasone intramuscularly, 50mls of multivitamin intramuscularly and ivermectin subcutaneously.

Samples collection

Blood samples were collected from the superficial vein and placed in EDTA coated tubes and plain tubes coated with a clot retractor.

Revival and loading

The rhino was revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 10 mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear vein. Another 12mgs of Diprenorphine was administered intramuscularly to enhance a quick recovery from anaesthesia. Another 50mgs of Narlophine hydrochloride, the animal woke up from anaesthesia after 3 minutes but it had to be assisted to stand and move into the crate. The loading process took along time because the animal could not support itself to stand. It was then transported and released into a boma for regular attention and care.

Loading the rhino to move him to the boma  Dylan recumbant in the boma

Boma care and management

Feeds provided in the boma included dried Lucerne, horse cubes, salt mineral licks, sugarcane and water. The animal remained recumbent for long hours in the boma and it died after two days.

 Postmortem examination

The postmortem examination revealed a complete fracture of the tibia bone just at the point of attachment to the tarsal joint of the left hind limb. The affected limb was largely swollen and atrophied. The wound on the right side of the abdomen penetrated between the intercostal muscles.

 Cause of death

Due to prolonged pain caused by the fracture and possible development of septiceamia, the animal must have died of toxic shock due to wound infection by bacteria. Anorexia and longer period of recumbency also contributed to its death.

 Recommendations

There is need to dehorn or replace the aggressive and dominant male in the sanctuary to avoid more attacks and also to reduce the chances of in-breeding that can occur in that population.

Treatment of an injured Eland in Mundui ranch Naivasha

The Eland was reported to have a very poor body condition with severe lameness of the right front limb, it had stayed in that condition for sometime due to difficulty in sightings. It was an adult male Eland. It was captured by a chemical restrain through darting using 12mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 30mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride, it took a bout 6 minutes to become recumbent. It had a deep and septic wound on the interdigital space, a lot of inflammatory reactions on that part of the limb caused pain and swelling of the limb and interfered with the movement of the Eland.

The Eland is darted  operating on the Eland

A close up of the hoof

The wound was lavaged, debrided then treated with application of tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray. Blood and tissue samples then collected and submitted for laboratory analysis. Prognosis was good after treatment because the wound did not extend to the joint. It was then revived and released.

Postmortem examination of a Black rhino in Masai Mara

The rhino carcass was found lying in a small stream in Olkejorongoin area GPS location S 01 29, 365, E 035 09, 834 of Masai Mara National Reserve. It was reported by rangers on patrol but later on confirmed by the senior warden Mara. Both the horns were intact and were recovered and stored by the warden Mara before being forwarded to KWS station in Narok. The carcass had stayed for more than two weeks by the time it was sighted and most flesh had been consumed by scavengers. On closer examination, the ribs seemed to have a fracture line that had not healed properly and formed a callus hence it was suspected that the animal got injured and must have broken its ribs, this could be through a fight with another rhino.

  

 A case of a snared zebra in Mundui ranch in Naivasha

The zebra was found with a long wire snare on the left hind limb that had cut into the tissues causing a lot of pain and inflammatory reactions. It was then captured by chemical immobilization and the snare cut off using a wire cutter and the wound treated. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and released.

A case of a cheetah attacked by a lion in Masai Mara

It was a 6 month old cheetah cub that was born with a congenital anomally of both the eyes. The corneum of the eye was poorly developed and the animal was discovered to be partially blind. It was the only cub with the mother possibly other cubs were predated by hyenas or lions. The animal had been under a very close monitoring by the rangers to see if it could survive with the mother and plans were being made to capture it and be taken to an animal orphanage for tender care and treatment. Later on it was reported that they were attacked by a lion and the cub was extensively injured at the shoulder joint, spinal cord and cubital (elbow) joint. It was then rescued by the rangers who found it and it was fed on milk as they sought veterinary assistance. But due to intense pain, haemorrhages and spinal cord injury, it died in a short while.

The cubs mother

The postmortem examination was done and revealed a complete corneal opacity of both the eyes plus the bite wounds on the shoulder joint, spinal cord and elbow joint. Tissue samples were collected for molecular analysis because the eye condition was suspected to have occurred as a result of in-breeding.

The dead cheetah cub  The cub was blind in both eyes

Wounds from the lion attack  A postmortem is conducted

Recommendation

The particular lion that attacked this cheetah is known and has been attacking cheetahs in the area killing the cubs and injuring their mothers. It would be a good idea to relocate it to a far area with no cheetahs within the reserve or else it will affect the growth of the cheetah’s population in Mara.

Treatment of a Colobus monkey in Elsemere farm in Naivasha

The monkey was reported to be dull and inactive, it was unable to feed and kept rolling on the ground most of the time. Its eyelids were swollen and it was always left behind by other monkeys. The animal was captured using a rope and then wrapped into a blanket for secured restraint. On examination it had fever of about 40 degrees Celsius, pulse rate of 90 beats per minute and very weak, respiration 40 cycles per minute and shallow. The animal also had mucous discharges from the nostrils. The tentative diagnosis was made to be acute pneumonia.

The sick colobus monkey  The colobus is treated for pneumonia with Betamox, multivitamin & dexamethasone

The monkey is put in a cage to be monitored

The animal was then treated by intramuscular administration of Betamox, multivitamin and dexamethasone. The eyes were treated using Opticlox eye ointment. The animal was then put into a cage and provided with a lot of drinking water and food. The following day it was reported to have recovered and playing, and then it was released to join others in the field.

Treatment of a Masai Giraffe in Masai Mara

This was a case of an adult male giraffe that had been treated before but the wound never healed completely and a decision was made to repeat the treatment. It was immobilized through darting using 16mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 40mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride and it became recumbent after about 5 minutes. The wound was lavaged and debrided then treated by topical application of tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray.

The immobilised giraffe  The wound is cleaned and treated

An antiboitic spray is administered  The giraffee is revived after treatment

The animal was then revived from anaesthesia using 48mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 5mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride then supported to rise up using ropes. It will be monitored for the time being to check on its progress after the treatment.

Treatment of a lion in Masai Mara

This was a case of an adult female lion that was reported to have been extensively injured by another lion from a different pride. It was in intense pain and preferred lying down most of the time. The vet was called to attend to this animal, after searching for sometime, the animal was found lying under a thick shrub. It was then anaesthetized by darting using 250mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride combined with 250mgs of Ketamine. it took 8 minutes for the drug to take effect and it became recumbent.

On physical examination, it had extensive soft tissue injuries on the semitedinosus and semi-membraneous muscles of the left hind limb other deep bite wounds were on the inguinal region with so many lacerative wounds on the back of the animal. All these wounds were cleaned, debrided and then irrigated by a tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray applied on them. The wounds were already aseptic with some maggots and could not be sutured. Other treatments included administration of antibiotics, antinflammatories and multivitamins.

The immobilised lioness  The lioness had bite wounds on the hind limbs

Cleaning the lionesses wounds  The wounds are irrigated by a tincture of iodine

The prognosis was fair after treatment because the injured soft tissues were well vascularised and had better chances of healing. The only danger was the possibility of nerve injuries on the hind limb that might lead to permanent paralysis.

Treatment of a lion and rescue of its cubs in Masai Mara.

It was reported by the Warden of Koiyaki-Lemek Wildlife Trust that an adult female lion with three little cubs had an injury on its left hind limb and was unable to hunt. They had been feeding it on goat meat for quite some time before it was attended to.

Capture and restrain

The day when it was to be treated it was found in a shade under a thick shrub. The animal was then anaesthetized using 250mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride combined with 250mgs of Ketamine, it took about 10 minutes for the drug to take effect and the animal became recumbent.

It was under a stable anaesthesia with a respiratory rate of 24 cycles/min, pulse rate of 72 beats /min, body temperature of 38 degrees Celsius. It was then dowsed with a lot of water and put under a shade for examination.

Physical examination

The left hind limb was swollen and atrophied (probably due to disuse), there was a complete transverse fracture of femur bone on the distal end, the broken bones were displaced and attempts to apposition them was not possible due to thick muscles and rugged edges of the bones.

The immobilised lioness

The left swollen hind limb is examined

A decision was made to transport it to KWS veterinary clinic in Nairobi for X-ray examination and verify how the fracture could be fixed then later on be put into a confinement be fed and provided with water without much movements. The three cubs of about 2 months old were also captured by hand for transport to an animal orphanage for care because they could not survive in the wild without the mother who was no longer able to hunt for them.

Capturing the cubs by hand  One of the captured cubs

The mother was then loaded onto a pick-up padded with soft clothing to take it to a crate for transportation. Before it was put into a crate it developed convulsions and tetany that led to cardiac arrhythmia and by the time it was being resuscitated and being administered with diazepam the animal convulsed more and died. 

The lioness in the back of the pickup  The dead lioness

Postmortem examination was done and the major significant finding was the femur bone fracture and the cause of death was suspected to be due to the effects of the anaesthetic drugs and deep seated pain originating from the fractured bone and injured nerves. Tissue samples from internal organs were collected for histopathology examination.

Rescue of the cubs

The three cubs aged about 2 months were then caged and kept warm till the following day when they were fed on lean meat and provided with a lot of water then later on transported to Nairobi orphanage for care.

The cubs in the cage for transport to nairobi

Reported by Dr. Domnic Mijele

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