The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - November 2011
Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Many wildlife cases requiring veterinary attention were reported to the veterinary unit in Mara during the month of November, 2011. These included an orphaned 1 year-old elephant calf rescued from near Ashnil camp, a male giraffe with a long spear stuck on its back near Simba lodge, a lioness with an arrow-head stuck on the right shoulder in Olare Orok conservancy. A habituated eland attacking people in Ngerende was also relocated from Ngerende camp to Majimoto area among other cases as reported below.
Rescue of an elephant calf from Masai Mara to elephant orphanage in Nairobi
This was a young male elephant calf of about 1 year old that was found alone on the plains Near Ashnil Mara camp. It had been in the area for a few days without the mother or any other elephant herd around. It had been attacked by predators possibly hyenas and had several wounds on the penile shaft and on the perineum. Arrangements were then made to capture it, treat the wounds and transport it to the elephant orphanage at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi for tender care before being released back to the wild.
Tranquillization, treatment and transportation to orphanage
The calf was captured by darting using 2mgs of etorphine Hcl delivered by Dan-inject dart gun, the drug took effect within 5 minutes and the elephant became recumbent. The wounds affecting the penile shaft were examined and found to be bite wounds and scratch wounds most likely caused by hyenas. The wounds were then cleaned and treated using long-acting antibiotics. The calf was then examined and found to be in a stable health condition even though it was beginning to loose its body condition and getting weak due to hypoglyceamia. It was then covered using warm blankets and loaded onto a pick-up vehicle which took it to Keekorok airstrip.
The calf was then flown to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage in Nairobi for tender care. Treatment for the wounds was to continue for about 1 week for full recovery of the wounds. It had good chances of surviving in the orphanage and had a very good appetite.
Relocation of an eland from Ngerende Camp to Majimoto area
The veterinary unit in Masai Mara received a report of an orphaned sub-adult male eland that had been recovered from the field and reared at Ngerende Camp in Mara. The eland had grown to become adult and was very much habituated and used to human-beings. It had started developing aggressive behaviors and was attacking visitors and staff at the camp. The management of the camp requested for the relocation of the eland to another place within Mara but away from the camp. The eland was then anaesthetized using 5mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 20mgs of xylazine, it was then loaded to a pick-up vehicle and transported to Majimoto area about 30kms away from Ngerended. It was released near an existing herd of other elands and expected to join and cope up with other elands in the wild.
Treatment of a giraffe with an arrow on the back near Simba lodge, Masai Mara.
This was an adult male giraffe that had been sighted with a along metallic spear sticking on its back. The spear had pierced through the abdomen causing a lot of traumatic injuries to the abdominal organs. It had stayed in this condition for about 2 days before it was sighted. The animal was sighted by the Mara Conservancy rangers while on their regular patrol and reported the case to Mara veterinary unit for attention. It required an urgent veterinary attention to save it from the pain and injury caused by the spear.
Chemical immobilization and restrain
The giraffe was darted from a vehicle using 15mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 50mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride. It took about 5 minutes to get narcotized and was then roped down manually. The spear was pulled out from the abdomen, the spear was smooth and slendor with no hook therefore it did not cause extensive injuries to the abdomen. The wound was drained, cleaned and treated with long-acting antibiotics, the giraffe was still strong and in a very good body condition. Blood samples were obtained from the jugular vein that will be analyzed for health monitoring purposes.
After removal of the spear, the animal was revived from anaesthesia using 48mgs of Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with 10mgs of Atipamezole hydrochloride administered through the jugular vein. It rose up after about 2 minutes and joined the rest of the herd nearby after a successful treatment. Prognosis was good after removing the spear and treating the wound.
Treatment of a lioness with an arrow on the shoulder
This was a case of an adult lioness sighted in Olare Orok Wildlife conservancy near Mara Plains Camp with an arrow-head still stuck on the right shoulder piercing deep into the shoulder muscles. The lioness was in a great pain and preferred lying down most of the times unable to hunt and was in a company of another lioness. It was an urgent case and the veterinary team from Mara managed to attend to it on time, surgically removed the arrow-head and treated it for the injuries caused by the weapon.
The lioness was captured using 450mgs of Xylazine Hcl combined with 450mgs of Ketamine Hcl, it was darted on the right thigh and became recumbent after about 10 minutes. It was then blindfolded and put on a towel for proper examination.
Examination and treatment
The lioness was examined and found to be under stable anaesthesia then the arrow-head was removed carefully using tissue forceps, surgical blade and haemostats. It had created a deep wound through the biceps muscles and was getting infected. The arrow was quickly extracted out using a pair of pliers and tissue forceps. The wound was already infected and could not be sutured due to sepsis, it was therefore cleaned and debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide followed by application of tincture of iodine and cloxacillin ointment. It was further treated by Betamox antibiotic and dexamethasone administered intramuscularly. Blood and tissue samples were collected for laboratory analysis and future reference.
After treatment, the lioness was revived from anaesthesia after about 1 hour using 20mgs of Atipamezole Hcl administered intramuscularly; it took about 20 minutes to rise up and got into the nearby shrubs. Prognosis was quite good after removal of the arrow and treating the wound, the rangers were informed to keep monitoring it daily and report the progress to the veterinary team in Mara just in case it will require further attention.
Diminishing space and habitat for wildlife conservation has led high incidences of human-wildlife conflicts and wildlife injuries and mortalities. The veterinary unit in Mara managed to attend to most of the reported wildlife cases in Mara. KWS appreciates 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; DSWT has provided adequate transport, drugs and other equipment required for wildlife veterinary service in Mara over the years. This support has significantly contributed to wildlife conservation in these areas which are facing the challenge of human-wildlife conflict and loss of wildlife habitat.
Report by: Dr. Domnic Mijele