The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - December 2008

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Introduction

The veterinary activities in the Central Rift region and Masai Mara went on successfully during the month of December, 2008. Clinical cases that were attended to include treatment and removal of snares from two Rothschild giraffes and a roan antelope in Ruma National park and rescue of another snared giraffe in Marula ranch in Naivasha. Other very important activity undertaken was that of re-stocking Ol-choro-Oiroua rhino conservancy with two female white rhinos from Lake Nakuru National park.

Removal of a snare and treatment of a Roan antelope in Ruma National park

The adult female roan antelope in a group of 12 others was sighted on the burnt plains on the way to Nyatoto gate. It had a tight wire snare round the neck, the wire had inflicted severe injuries on the dorsal and ventral sides of the neck and the animal was in constant pain for a long time. It had lost much of its body condition and grown weak. It could be seen having haemorrhages from the wound and a lot of blood stains on the head and neck region.

Capture, restrain and treatment

The roan was captured by chemical immobilization using 7mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 30mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride administered through darting on the shoulder muscles. It was extremely shy and not easy to approach by a vehicle or on foot for darting. The animal could only be darted after a short chasing using a vehicle. After darting the drug took effect after 5 minutes and the rest of the restraint was by ropes and hands.

The wire was cut off using a pair of pliers and the wound cleaned and debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide then a tincture of iodine applied on it and oxytetracycline spray applied on it. Other treatments included intramuscular administration of long-acting oxytetracycline and antinflammatory drugs these would reduce pain and swelling, prevent more bacterial infection and development of septiceamia.

The roan antelope is darted  The snare was around the roan antelopes neck

The wound that was caused by the snare  The snare wound after treament

The roan antelope after treatment

Revival from anaesthesia and release

The animal was then revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 5mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the ear-vein; it rose up after 2 minutes and joined the rest of the antelopes.

Prognosis

The roan had good chances of recovery from the injuries inflicted by the wire, the irritant had been removed and treatment for bacterial infection instituted. It had good appetite and the body condition likely to recover within a short time.

Removal of a snare and treatment of two Rothschild giraffes in Ruma National park

The two giraffes were found in a plain field towards Nyadenda gate, one of them was a sub-adult male with a very deep cut on the planter surface of the left hind leg. The wound was so severe with intense pain and haemorrhage that the giraffe could hardly move. The other giraffe was an adult female with a swollen right hind limb encircled with a slight cut and could be seen limping as it moved.

First case

The sub-adult male giraffe had a severe wound on the planter side of the right hind leg, the tight wire had cut through all the muscle layers and only the bone remained intact. It was then captured by darting on the right shoulder and the drug took effect within a few minutes. The wire was retrieved from the wound and the wound cleaned up and treated as usual. Later on anaesthesia was revived and the giraffe rose up successfully to join others.

Removing the snare  Trying to cut the snare which was deeply embedded

The wound caused by the snare

One of the giraffes with a deep wound caused by a snare in Ruma National park, the animal was captured and treated successfully.

Prognosis

The giraffe had good chances of survival as the bones were not affected and the wound was still fresh with little infection. The topical treatments on the wound plus antibiotic cover will enhance quick healing of the wound and full recovery of the giraffe.

Second case

This was a case of a female adult giraffe that had been treated earlier but the affected part of the leg remained enlarged due to fibrosis of the tissues after a chronic infection following an injury. It was still limping and was avoiding weight on the affected leg.

It was also captured by darting from a distant, after it went recumbent; the infected limb was examined and found to be firm, enlarged with no oedema or pus accumulation. It was then treated with antinflammatory drugs and antibiotics then later on revived from anaesthesia. It had good chances of healing and recovery if the swelling resolved.

The giraffe goes down after being darted  The snare wound before treatment

The wound caused by the snare after treatment  The giraffe gets back to its feet after treatment

Treatment of a snared giraffe in Marula Ranch in Naivasha

This was one of the giraffes that were recently introduced in Marula ranch; they are kept in a large enclosure with an electric fence round with very good security available. So it was not immediately known where the animal got entangled with a snare. It was an adult female giraffe with a tight wire cutting round the middle phalanx. It had stayed with the injury for quite sometime and had lost much of its body condition due to pain and restricted movement and feeding.

The giraffe was captured by chemical immobilization through darting from a vehicle, the drug took effect after about 6 minutes and the giraffe went recumbent. Physical restrain using ropes and hands was applied to secure the animal in good position so that the wire could be retrieved from deep inside the muscles.

The immobilised giraffe  The snare was deeply embedded

Cleaning the wound  The wound after treatment

The wire was retrieved and cut off from the wound after excising through the tissue debris using a scalpel blade. Further treatment for the wound using 10% hydrogen peroxide solution followed by an application of a tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray. Additional treatment by antibiotics, multivitamins and antinflammatory drugs through intramuscular administration was provided to the giraffe to enhance healing of the injury caused by the snare.

The giraffe was then revived from anaesthesia and released to join the rest of the herd, prognosis was good after treatment, only the muscles had been damaged but they are likely to heal faster due to proper vascularisation.

Conclusion

Most of the cases in December involved treatment and rescue of some of the Kenya’s endangered species like the Roan antelopes and Rothschild giraffes in Ruma NP. Basic laboratory equipment were provided by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust but the unit still requires a solar-powered refrigerator and a laboratory technician based in Mara to help in collecting, processing and storage of biological samples for diseases diagnosis, surveillance and research. This will greatly improve the veterinary services and research activities in the region.

Reported by: Dr. Domnic Mijele