The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - January 2013

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Introduction The month of January saw several veterinary activities in the region mainly in Elephants and a lion. Most of the cases were handled by a team from Nairobi as the resident Vet was on leave. The area is fast drying up though most water holes still have plenty of water. Cases are expected to increase after most water holes dry up and conflicts assume an upward trend. Treatment of an injured Elephant bull near Ziwani, Tsavo West, 11th January. History: This elephant was reported by camp attendants having been spotted limping for the last one month with obvious injuries in one of the limbs.It was thought to have been injured as a result of human wildlife conflicts. Immobilisation and treatment 16mgs etorphine was administered remotely by Daninject darting system. It took eight minutes for full effects to be achieved and the elephant went down on right lateral recumbency. A suspected piercing spear wound on the lateral aspect of left forelimb at the carpus, another wound was also observed on the torso of the head, Shallow wound noted on the withers region and a piercing wound found lateral to the root of the left tusk. All wounds had pus. Management; All the wounds were lavaged with corpious amount of water and irrigated using lugols iodine. Oxytetracycline wound spray was applied with wound healing oil. Green clay was applied on the wounds and 15000mgs amoxicillin given intramuscularly to various sites as injection. The Elephant was assisted onto its feet by roping. Prognosis Guarded Treatment of an injured sub-adult Elephant in Aruba dam, Tsavo East, 13th Jan. History; This particular elephant was spotted by the David Sheldrick field team walking alone with difficulty around Aruba dam in Tsavo East National Park. It was obviously injured on one of its limbs. Immobilisation and treatment The elephant was darted with 13mgs etorphine using dan inject system. It took 8 minutes for the drugs to take full effect and the elephant went down on left lateral recumbency. The elephant was on an average body condition with a piercing wound at the tarso-metartarsal joint of the right limb. The wound was suppurative. The wound was copiously lavaged with water, irrigated with lugols iodine and oxytetracycline wound spray applied. Green clay was used to cover the wound. In addition 15000mg amoxicillin antibiotic was administered intramuscularly. Revival; 36mgs diprenorphine was given through the ear vein and revival was smooth. The whole procedure took forty minutes.

The elephant is darted  The immobilized elephant

The wound before treatment  Cleaning the wound

The wound after treatment

Treatment of an injured Elephant at Wananchi ranch, 23rd Jan. Clinical History An elephant was seen by Tsavo East OPS team, immobile with a heavily swollen leg. It was again seen alone at the same area for a period of 7 days. Immobilization Using 18mg of etorphine Hcl, a 3 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. She was dragging her right hind leg and almost immobile. She moved with a lot of difficulty. Using Dan inject dart rifle the elephant was darted on foot, it was immobilized after 7 minutes. Examination and Wounds management She had enormously swollen right hind leg; an arrow head was found deeply embedded in tissues and removed. The wound was 20cm in diameter and about 10cm in depth with various pus sinuses and lots of dead tissue. The wound was cleaned with copious amounts of water and dead tissues removed. The wound was cauterized and severally lavaged with hydrogen peroxide and later liberally cleaned with Lugols iodine. The wound was sprayed with Oxytetracycline spray. Long acting oxytetracycline and Flunixine meglumine were administered. Reversal of anesthesia Using 48mg of diprenorphine given IV at the ear vein the animal was reversed from anaesthesia, recovery was smooth but she failed to stand up. In addition to this she was injected with 50mg of Naltrexone to avoid renarcotization. We assisted her to stand up using a rope tied to a land cruiser.

The embedded arrow  Cleaning the arrow wound

Management of a snared Elephant case in Shimba hills reserve, 24th Jan. History An elephant was reported to have been snared by poachers at Shimba Hills National Park. Veterinary and Capture team responded to this distress call on 24th day of January 2013 at 3.45 pm. Immobilization The elephant had been immobilized by a winch wire snare tied to a tree. There was no need for chemical immobilization. The elephant was on lateral recumbent position. Examination The elephant had been trapped by a winch wire snare tied to a tree. A hole had been dug and a wire snare laid and concealed with a metallic plate camouflaged by tree leaves. The animal had further deteriorated due to self inflicted internal injuries, capture stress and muscle degeneration.

The snare around the elephants foot

Prognosis of the case Prognosis of the case was poor and decision made was euthanasia. Treatment of a snared lion in Ngulia Rhino valley, Tsavo West, 30th Jan. History The male lion was spotted in a group of 3 other adult males within the Rhino valley with a snare around the neck by tourist. The vet team rushed to investigate the case and found the lion under a tree. Immobilization and treatment Darting was done using 300 mgs of ketamine mixed with 4 mgs of meditomidine in a 3 cc dan inject dart. The wire snare was removed and cut wounds caused by the snare cleaned and sprayed with antibiotics. Long acting Amoxycillin was injected at a dose of 10 cc stat. Revival was done using 0.5 cc atipemazole after the lion was up after one and half an hour of treatment.

The immobilized snared lion  The wound caused by the snare

Examining the lion  The snare wound is treated

Acknowledgements The unit will like to thank its sponsors VIER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DWST) for their continued support to the unit. We also thank colleagues who assisted in the region while the resident Vet was on leave. Report by: Drs Poghon J; Limo C and Kaitho T.