The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - February 2011

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 Introduction

With fairly good weather conditions and forage availability within Tsavo ecosystem, cases of injuries in wildlife remained generally low. Several days of showers were witnessed and both water holes and pans whether artificial or natural remained full of water.

Elephant still topped the number of cases attended during the month though other activities involved rescue of abandoned cubs.

Rescue of abandoned cubs at Iltilal trading centre within Kuku Ranch 3rd February. 

Kuku ranch is a community conservation initiative adjacent to Tsavo West National Park where domestic animals, wildlife and the community live side by side. Though most herbivores are present, the community resents carnivores as they predate on their livestock quite often.

Report of two young cubs was received by the unit which rushed in to find the terrified little cubs perched in a thick thorny tree to escape the wrath of the locals who accused their mother of killing seven goats the previous night.

The cubs a male and female who looked emaciated and very weak were safely captured and taken to Voi research centre where boiled and cooled water mixed with glucose and some milk was fed to provide with the much needed energy.

The cubs were finally moved to Nairobi orphanage on 4th March 2011 where they received a home and good care.

The tree that the lion cubs were in  The lion cub in the tree

One of the rescued lion cubs  The lion cubs are put in a cage to be transported to the Voi research center

Injured elephant calf at Ngulia in Tsavo West National Park, 4th February.

Injuries in elephants still dominate our calendar of activities.

The elephant calf was reported with signs of sluggish movements and pain, with a tendency of foraging along Tsavo River where there is plenty of food and water.

The young elephant was found recumbent on a sternal position and several attempts of resuscitation proved futile as the young succumbed to the injuries shortly thereafter.

Severe wounds on the perineal area coupled with urinary incontinence were observed and the tail was severed completely,this injuries are suspectedly caused by hyenas after the calf was abandoned/ separated.

Bite wounds around the perineum  The recumbent elephant calf

The wounds after treatment

Autopsy: Revealed massive septicaemia

Wounded lioness near Aruba within Tsavo East National Park, 9th February.

The report was received from tourists along the Aruba- Voi road of a sickly looking lioness under a tree beside the road. The team rushed in only to find the lioness had succumbed to its injuries.

Autopsy

Revealed a total of 26 penetrating wounds mostly concentrating around the pelvic region and two suspected killer blows going right into the lungs on both sides of the thorax cavity.

Suspected cause of death is hemorrhage and shock from buffalo attack. 

There were numerous penetrating wounds

More wounds

Dead elephant case at lualenyi ranch, 11th February.

Lualenyi ranch still commands a lot of attention for injuries sustained mostly by elephants.  In this case the male elephant aged about 25-30 years was spotted dead in Lualenyi ranch adjacent to Taita hills wildlife sanctuary.

Autopsy

Revealed several bullet shot injuries with some of the injuries indicating typical entry and exit bullet wounds. The carcass was decomposed making full autopsy impossible. 

The dead elephant

Cause of death- Gun shot wounds

Ngulia Lame Elephant case, 14th February.

A case of lame elephant bull was reported in Ngulia lodge within Tsavo West National Park where the unit rushed in and spotted the lone male elephant within Ngulia Rhino valley.

Immobilization and treatment.

Immobilization was done using remotely propelled 18 mgs of etorphine in a dan inject dart gun at 1401 hrs and he went down at 1410 hrs.

Examination revealed a penetrating wound on the medial aspect of the front limb near the elbow joint suspected to be a bullet wound deep into the bone. Palpation of the joint failed to spot any foreign object.

The immobilized elephant

Accessing the wound in order to clean it  The elephant awake after the reversal drug is administered

Treatment

The wound was cleaned with hydrogen peroxide and normal saline to remove pus and iodine applied.

Parenteral dexamethasone and amoxicillin was administered intramuscularly.

Prognosis- Good

Injured elephant bull at wildlife works Rukinga, 15th February.

Rukinga is a private wildlife Ranch adjacent to Tsavo East National Park along Nairobi-Mombassa highway.

The elephant bull was limping and reluctant to move.

Darting was done on foot using Dan inject propelled dart containing 18 mgs of etorphine at 1528 hrs and it took 5 minutes for the elephant to go down.

Examination revealed pus oozing from the right shoulder and a swollen left front limb.

Pus was drained and the wound cleaned with Hydrogen peroxide then iodine was applied.  Injection of dexamethasone and antibiotics was also given.

Treatment in progress

Cleaning a wound

After treatment  The elephant back on its feet

It was finally revived to its feet.

Prognosis: Good

Euthanasia of a female zebra foal in Manyani Gate Tsavo West National Park, 22nd February.

In the previous interventions by the unit, several cases of zebra’s have been treated near Manyani gate for fractures occasioned by suspected vehicle hits/accidents.

The foal was reported limping badly and fractured bone could be seen on the skin surface.

Immobilization was by use of 4 mgs of etorphine and 20 mgs of xylazine, it took around 5 minutes for full anaesthesia to be achieved.

Examination revealed an open complete fracture of the right hind limb at the carpal bone.

The injured zebra foal

The broken right hind limb

Prognosis of the fracture was very poor hence euthanasia was prescribed done by use of 10 mls of euthatol administered quick I.V. through the jugular vein.

Rescue of abandoned striped Hyena cubs at Riata primary school, Taveta Station. 28th February.

Striped hyena’s are among the rarest of the carnivores in Kenya. The three cub’s one male and two females aged less than a week old were picked by pupils of Riata primary school in Taveta County and taken to Taveta station that brought them to the unit for assistance.

The cubs were boosted with a drink of glucose in boiled and cooled water which they consumed with speed, later they were fed with milk given four times a day.

The cubs upon arrival

Feeding one of the cubs  The cubs cuddling after having some milk

The cubs were finally transported to Nairobi animal orphanage for better care on 1st March 2011.

Other cases.

A lioness was spotted around Ngutuni area in Tsavo East National Park with porcupine quills near the chest and abdominal area, but when it was spotted the next day for treatment the quills were missing on 4th February 2011.

Lioness with porcupine quills in the chest

A duiker was brought in with allegedly vehicle hit injuries, treated but succumbed the overnight to the injuries, Tsavo East National Park, 22nd February 2011.

The injured duiker

Silang’o, the male orphan treated last month for suspected train hit near Ngutuni area is greatly improving and another month in the stockade will be enough to make him able to use the limp up to 50%.

Acknowledgements

The unit still appreciates the great support it receives from its Sponsor ViER PFOTEN through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and finally The Kenya Wildlife Service through the Veterinary and Capture Services.

Report by: Dr. Poghon J.

The Mobile Veterinary Unit operated by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust working with The Kenyah Wildlife Service and funded by Vier Pfoten