The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - October 2011

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Summary Several cases of elephant injuries were reported in Masai Mara during the month of October, 2011, these included an elephant with a dislocated elbow joint in Lemek Conservancy, a wounded elephant in Siana conservancy and a sub-adult male elephant knocked down by over-speeding lorry along Narok-Maimahiu road. A lioness with serious traumatic injuries on the shoulder was also treated in Lemek conservancy and has since recovered from the wounds. Examination and treatment of an elephant with joint dislocation in Lemek Conservancy This was a case of a sub-adult male elephant found limping and unable to walk in Lemek conservancy, it had remained motionless for almost a week when it was reported for veterinary attention. The elephant was then captured by darting from a vehicle using 15mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 1500 i.u of hyaluronidase, the drug took effect after about 5 minutes and it became recumbent. Examination and treatment The elephant was examined and found to have extensively swollen left front leg, there was no sing of any wound or foreign body on the leg except that it was swollen and painful on palpation. It was suspected to have a dislocation of the shoulder joint. The elephant was then treated using intrarticular injection of flunixine meglumine to help reduce pain and resolve the developing arthritis on the affected joint. It was also treated with long-acting Betamox and Vitamin-B complex administered intramuscularly. Revival of anaesthesia and prognosis After treatment the elephant was revived from neuroleptanalgesia using 36mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear-vein. It had favorable prognosis since it was a sub-adult elephant. The conservancy rangers were advised to continue monitoring and report the recovery progress.

The Vet checking on the injury

The elephant with joint dislocation in Lemek

Treatment of a lioness in Lemek Conservancy, Mara. The adult lioness had a severe traumatic wound on the right shoulder, the injury had affected the humero-scapular joint and the lioness was in deep pain and unable to move with others. It was suspected to have been injured during hunting by a prey which had very sharp horns. Chemical restrain The lioness was captured using 350mgs of Xylazine Hcl combined with 350mgs of Ketamine Hcl, it was darted on the right thigh and became recumbent after about 10 minutes. It was then blindfolded and transferred to a cool shade under a tree from where it was examined and treated. Examination and treatment The wound on the shoulder was deep and already infected hence could not be sutured, it therefore cleaned and debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide and topical application of tincture of iodine then sprayed using oxytetracycline spray and cloxacillin ointment. The lion was also treated using antibiotics (Betamox®) and dexamethasone administered intramuscularly. Blood samples were collected in EDTA coated tubes and plain tubes coated with clot retractor and kept in a cool box, tissue samples and ectoparasites were also collected and kept in 70% ethanol solution awaiting further laboratory analysis. Anaesthesia Revival The lioness was revived from anaesthesia after about 60 minutes using 20mgs of Atipamezole Hcl administered intramuscularly, it took about 15 minutes to rise up but was unable to hunt for itself, the rest of the pride would feed her until it recovers.

The lioness is sedated  The Vet prepares to treat the wounded lioness

The wounds are cleaned  The Vet checks the injuries

The lioness is revived after being treated

Euthanasia of an elephant with fractured legs This was a 4-year old female elephant that had been knocked down by an over-speeding vehicle along the Narok-Maimahiu road near Ntulele trading centre. It sustained a complete fracture right femur and right humerus bones. The rest of the family members tried to support it but they could not manage and the elephant was left lying in a thicket by the road side. Examination and euthanasia Both the legs were palpated and flexed to ascertain the viability of the legs, it was realized that there were no chances of recovery from the fractures and the elephant was humanely euthanized by one gun shot through the brain. The tusks were then recovered and taken to KWS custody in Narok.

The calf with the leg injury

Treatment of a wounded male elephant in Siana conservancy, Mara This was a case of an adult male elephant which had a severe cut wound on the proximal part of the right front leg. The wound was already infected and had a lot of pus and maggots oozing out from the wound. The elephant was darted on foot using 15mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 1500 i.u of hyaluronidase, the drug took effect after about 5 minutes and it became recumbent. Examination and treatment The wound was examined and probed using a long tissue forceps and swabs, it was deep extending inwards to about 10 cm. The wound was then cleaned and debrided using water, exudates, maggots and necrotic tissues squeezed out. Then further chemically debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide draining all the accumulated pus and tissue debris, and later treated with a tincture of iodine and The elephant was further treated using long-acting oxytetracycline and dexamethasone administered intramuscularly. Blood and tissue samples were also collected and preserved for further laboratory tests such as detection of bovine tuberculosis antibodies. Revival of anaesthesia and prognosis After treatment, it was revived from neuroleptanalgesia using 36mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear-vein. The elephant had a good prognosis after the treatment. It was to be monitored by KWs rangers and Siana conservancy rangers in the area who would report its progress to the veterinary team just incase it required further treatments.

The elephant has an infected wound in the leg

The wound is cleaned  The Vet administers anti-biotic

The elephant getting up after treatment

Repeat treatment of an elephant with joint dislocation in Lemek Conservancy, Mara After about 2 weeks, the elephant had shown signs of remarkable recovery following the initial treatment hence there was need to repeat the treatment. It was then captured by darting and a similar regimen of treatment was repeated as before. The elephant was re-examined and treated using intrarticular injection of flunixine meglumine to help reduce pain and resolve the developing arthritis on the affected joint. It was also treated with long-acting Betamox and Vitamin-B complex administered intramuscularly. Unfortunately we did not have an x-ray machine to determine exactly the point of dislocation or fracture. Conclusion The declining wildlife rangelands caused by increasing human population and conversion of rangeland into agriculture has led to high incidents of human-wildlife conflicts hence many cases of elephant injuries in certain parts of Masai Mara. KWS acknowledges the support of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) towards provision of wildlife veterinary services in Maasai Mara and other parts of the Central Rift Conservation area; this has significantly contributed to wildlife conservation in these areas which are facing the challenge of human-wildlife conflict and loss of wildlife habitat.

The vet darts the injured elephant  The vet checks on the progress of the recovery

The Vet Unit treat the injured bull  The bull revived after treatment

Report by: Dr. Domnic Mijele