The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - July 2012
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The Mara veterinary unit was involved in a number of activities in the month of July, 2012 which included treatments of injured elephant in Olmotorogi conservancy and wounded lioness in Lemek conservancy and a questionnaire survey on knowledge and risk factors about bovine tuberculosis in wildlife, livestock and humans. All the veterinary activities went on successfully during the same period as reported below.
Treatment and rescue of a lioness from Masai Mara to Nairobi Animal orphanage
This was a case of a young lioness sighted in Lemek conservancy, it was quite emaciated with very poor body condition and multiple bite wounds on the hind legs, shoulder, tail and spinal column. It was alone and was unable to hunt for itself, it was also at a risk of being attacked by other lions or hyenas as it was not strong enough to defend itself. The animal was in a great pain and preferred lying down most of the times unable to hunt due to pain from the bite wounds. Since it was a helpless orphan, a decision was made by the veterinarian to anaesthetize the lioness, treat the injuries and transfer it to Nairobi animal orphanage for further treatment and care.
The lioness was captured using 300mgs of Xylazine Hcl combined with 300mgs of Ketamine Hcl, it was darted on the right thigh and became recumbent after about 8 minutes. It was then blindfolded and transferred to a shade for examination and treatment.
Examination and treatment
The lioness had several superficial wounds on many parts of the body, one of the bite wounds penetrated through the spinal column that caused weakness of hind limbs. The wounds were already infected and could not be sutured due to sepsis, some of those wounds had already started healing. All the wounds were treated 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.
The lioness was then loaded onto a spacious wooden crate designed for animal transport and transported by vet vehicle to Nairobi animal orphanage for further treatment and care.
Treatment of a wounded male elephant in Masai Mara.
This was a case of a sub-adult male elephant which had a severe extensive wound on the right lateral side of the abdomen in Olmotorogi conservancy within the Mara ecosystem. The wound was much infected with a lot of necrotic debris and pus oozing out from openings. It also had a substantive amount of pus accumulation in the peritoneum around the injury. The accumulated pus resulted into a swelling of the right abdomen due to lack of an opening for drainage. The cause of the injury was not known but it was suspected that the animal could have been shot by an arrow-head while being chased out of the homesteads around that place. This caused an injury that resulted to acute inflammation and cellulitis that led to these extensive wounds on the abdominal layers. The elephant was sighted by the scouts and manager of Olare Orok conservancy who immediately informed the vet to attend to it. It was under a great pain and moved with a lot of difficulties sometimes being left behind by the rest of the herds. It also had the risk of developing peritonitis and septiceamia that could easily lead to death.
Chemical immobilization, examination and treatment
The elephant was darted from a vehicle using 15mgs of etorphine Hcl combined with 3000 i.u on the left thigh. The drug took effect after about 6 minutes and it became recumbent. The wound was then examined for the presence of any foreign material but there was none, two slit openings were created on the ventral side of the abdomen and pus and necrotic debris drained out completely, this relieved the elephant from abdominal pressure resulting from the fluid and pus accumulation. Then wound was then cleaned with a lot of water and gauze swabs removing all the mud, maggots and loose tissue debris. It was also probed using long tissue forceps in an attempt to find out how deep it penetrated into the tissues.
It was also cleaned and debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide draining all the accumulated pus and necrotic tissue debris, then treated using a topical application of a tincture of iodine and oxytetracycline spray. It was also covered with green clay powder which maintains wound cleanliness, repel flies and enhance pus drainage. The two slit openings facilitated further drainage of pus after treatment.
Further treatments by intramuscular administration of long-acting Amoxycillin (Betamox) antibiotics and flunixin meglumine were provided.
Revival of anaesthesia
After treatment, the elephant was revived from anaesthesia using 48mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride administered through the superficial ear-vein. It was to be monitored closely by the scouts and management of Olmotorogi conservancy who would report the progress to the vet in case the elephant required further treatment.
The elephant had very good prognosis after treatment because of proper drainage and removal of dead tissues together with accumulated maggots and pus. Treatment was also done at the right time before peritonitis and septiceamia set in.
Questionnaire survey on pastoralists knowledge and awareness of bovine tuberculosis in wildlife, livestock and humans in Masai Mara.
This is part of an ongoing research on bovine tuberculosis in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. More than 130 questionnaires were filled by Masai pastoralists around Masai Mara National Reserve. The information obtained from this survey will help in prevention of bovine tuberculosis in the area. The data will be analyzed to determine the level of knowledge in local residents and which actions to be taken to prevent/control bovine tuberculosis in wildlife, livestock and humans in Masai Mara ecosystem.
We acknowledge the support of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust towards provision of wildlife veterinary services in Masai Mara ecosystem this has significantly contributed to the general wildlife conservation in these areas. We also acknowledge the support of the rangers and staff from Masai Mara National Reserve and the surrounding community-owned wildlife conservancies for continuous support and reporting of wildlife incidences requiring veterinary intervention in Masai Mara ecosystem.
Report by: Dr. Domnic Mijele