The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - June 2009
Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The veterinary activities were very successful during the month of June, several cases of common zebras, eland and buffalo trapped with snares and with various injuries were handled successfully in Naivasha area as highlighted in the report below. A female elephant with a two-month old calf was also treated for the second time of severe injuries on the abdomen, udder and shoulder of unknown cause and left to recover. A postmortem examination was done on a black rhino which was found dead in Masai Mara and whose cause of death could not be immediately ascertained, laboratory samples were collected and are being analyzed to find out the possible cause of death.
We are grateful for the support of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) towards provision of veterinary services to wildlife in Mara and other parts of Central Rift, through this support; the veterinary unit in Mara has been able to respond to all reported cases that require veterinary attention in Mara and Central Rift region.
Removal of a snare and treatment of an adult male eland in Lentolia farm, Naivasha
This was a case of an adult male eland that was trapped by a tight wire round the neck in Lentolia farm; it was reported to the vet by the farm workers while on a daily patrol. The wire had caused a slight injury on the ventral side of the neck and at the base of horns.
It was captured by darting using 12mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 40mgs of xylazine hydrochloride on the right thigh muscles. It took about 7 minutes to become recumbent. A blindfold was used to help cover the eyes and opticlox eye ointment applied on both the eyes.
The wire was cut off from the neck using a wire cutter and the resulting wound was also treated using hydrogen peroxide and a tincture of iodine then sprayed with oxytetracycline spray. Long-acting oxytetracycline antibiotics and dexamethasone was also administered intramuscularly to take care of bacterial infection and ensuing inflammation.
The animal was later revived from anaesthesia using 36mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 5mgs of atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the jugular vein and it rose up after 2 minutes. Prognosis was good after the removal of the snare and treating the wound which was not so severe.
Rescue of a snared buffalo calf in Lentolia farm, Naivasha
A young male buffalo calf of about 2 years was also sighted with a snare wire hanging loosely round the neck. It was with its mother in a large herd of buffaloes within Lentolia farm. The animal was then captured by darting using 3mgs of etorphine combined with 20mgs of xylazine and it became recumbent after about 5 minutes, the wire was quickly removed and the animal revived from anaesthesia using 12mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 5mgs of atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the jugular vein and left to rejoin the mother which was still nearby. The wire was loose and no injury had been inflicted on the neck.
Treatment of a common zebra injured by a snare in Crater Lake Sanctuary in Naivasha
This was a case of an adult female zebra that had a deep wound caused by a snare on the left hind leg. It was seen limping and had difficulties in movement. It was then captured by chemical immobilization by darting using 5mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 80mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride and took about 6 minutes to become recumbent.
The wound was well cleaned and treated using hydrogen peroxide and a tincture of iodine then sprayed with oxytetracycline spray. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia using 24mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride and 5 mgs of atipamezole hydrochloride. The prognosis was good and it has good chances of healing after treatment.
Rescue of a common zebra trapped by a snare and a piece of plastic in Crater Lake Sanctuary, Naivasha.
The zebra was sighted in a herd of about 10 other zebras, it was unable to walk properly and was in severe pain because the plastic was cutting right through the muscles causing intense pain. It was then captured by darting on the left shoulder region. The sisal rope attached to the plastic container was cut off and removed.
The wound that was inflicted on the foot of the zebra was well cleaned and treated routinely using 10% hydrogen peroxide and application of a tincture of iodine solution, other antibiotics and antinflammatory drugs were also administered intramuscularly. It was later revived from anaesthesia and released back to the wild feeling relieved. It had good prognosis of recovery from the injury.
Removal of a snare and treatment of another zebra in Crater Lake Sanctuary, Naivasha
This was a case of an adult female zebra found with a tight snare cutting through the carpal joint of the left front leg; the snare had already inflicted a severe injury on the limb causing lameness to the animal. It was successfully captured by darting, snare removed and the wound treated with antibiotics. It was captured by darting and the wire cut off and the wound treated appropriately then the animal was revived from anaesthesia and released.
Postmortem report of a Black rhino (Diceros bicornis) found dead in Masai Mara on 25th, June, 2009;
A black rhino was found dead on the slopes of Ngama Hills within Masai Mara National Reserve GPS location, 36M 0757843, UTM 9826340 on the morning of Thursday 25th
June, 2009, it was sighted by the Narok County Council rhino monitoring rangers who immediately reported this case to KWS veterinarian and security officers from Narok to assist in postmortem and investigations to confirm the cause of death. The carcass was more than one week old and had been consumed by hyenas and other scavengers.
According to the Mara rhino monitoring records the carcass was confirmed to be that of an adult male rhino named “Parsimei” aged about 5 years old, with identification number of 1565, last sighted alive on 1/06/2009. It had not been ear-notched.
Findings from the scene
There were some signs of rhino browsing on the shrubs that were found near the carcass, several tracks of vehicle movement were observed from the point where the rhino browsed to the point where it died which is just 100 meters from the rhino observation point frequently used by rangers to spot the rhinos. It was also evident that the carcass was then dragged using a vehicle for about 600 meters to the point where it was found on the day of postmortem. There were no signs of bleeding or struggle from the point of death and along the track through which it was dragged. The area is mainly covered by tall grasses and scattered trees and shrubs, due to tall grass; it was not possible to visualize the treads of the vehicle used for pulling the carcass after death.
The carcass was about 7 days old, it had been completely eviscerated by hyenas or other scavengers, all the abdominal and thoracic contents had been eaten up, only the head, rib cage and 3 legs remained. Both the caudal and rostral horns could not be found, the right hind leg was also missing and could not be traced. The carcass was full of maggots and much decomposed. The muscles and skin covering the left side of the shoulder and neck had been eaten by hyenas. No bullet wound or metallic object was observed on the carcass. Skin abrasion lesions caused by dragging on the ground were observed on the lateral side of left thighs and abdominal region
The carcass was much decomposed and had been preyed on by hyenas and other scavengers; this made it difficult to exactly identify the cause of death. Tissues, blood smears and body fluid samples were collected to be submitted to a laboratory to be analyzed for any infectious or non-infectious conditions that could have led to its death.
Cases of wildlife injuries and snaring due to human-wildlife conflicts are still on the rise in Naivasha areas. Snaring and injuries of giraffes, common zebras and other animals in Naivasha are still a great threat to wildlife conservation in the area. The Central Rift veterinary unit through the support of Kenya Wildlife Service and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) continue to rescue as many animals as possible both in the Mara ecosystem and other parts of Central Rift.
Reported by; Dr. Domnic Mijele
DDBR&M, DDC&WS, DDS, AD-CR, SAD-BR&M, SAD-P & R, H-Other species, SW-NAROK,