The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - February 2013
Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The Eastern conservation area mobile veterinary unit was launched on 4th February 2013 to provide veterinary interventions in wildlife in the larger Meru ecosystem and all wildlife dispersal areas in Eastern and Northern conservation areas.
In its first month following the launch the unit has been able to attend to clinical cases in various wildlife species including white rhino, elephant, grevys zebra, cheetah and black rhinos. Areas covered include Marsabit national park and Laisamis in the north, Meru, Ol Jogi ranch and Aberdares national park.
During its first week the unit toured areas in Isiolo, Lewa, Samburu, Meru and Kora National parks contacting key persons who will report cases to the unit as they occur. In this regard we extend our gratitude to Dr. Mutinda of the Mountain region Veterinary unit who has been useful in referring cases to the unit and providing contacts in the area.
We would also like to thank the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for providing financial and logistical support to the unit.
Filariasis in white Rhino in Meru national park
Species: White rhino
Age: adult with 3 year old calf
Id. Number: 70W23
The rhino monitoring team in Meru National Park reported that two rhinos 1 black and 1 white had expansive wounds which required veterinary attention. The Meru MVU and the Warden in charge of the rhino sanctuary visited the sanctuary and after a quick assessment of the ground we decided to immobilize the female white rhino which had a three year old calf for examination and treatment. A fixed wing plane was called in to provide air support in locating the rhino after darting.
We used a combination of Etorphine Hcl (M99) 6mg and Xylazine Hcl 80mg in a 3ml Dan Inject dart with a 2.2 60mm needle. Darting was conducted on foot since the rhino was used to rangers moving around.
The dart was placed on the right forelimb at the brachial muscles. Induction time was 25 minutes during which time the animal covered about 3 kilometers. The animal was then roped to sternal recumbency after chasing the calf with a vehicle.
On contact with the animal, copious amount of water was doused to cool the animal. Opticlox ointment was applied on the dart wound and eyes to prevent desiccation of the cornea. Vital parameters such as respiration and tissue perfusion were continuously monitored to ensure that the narcotized animal was stable.
After the procedure, Naltrexone 150mg and Atipamezole 10mg were administered intravenously into the superficial ear veins to reverse the effects of the opioid and the α-2 agonist. Diprenophine Hcl 24mg was also administered intramuscularly to prevent renarcotization.
Physical examination and diagnosis
An expansive wound dorsally on the left hind quarters about 25 cm 15 cm in diameter extending caudally to the base of the tail. The lesion was superficial affecting only the epidermis characterized by redness, erosive ulceration and crust formation. The edges of the lesion were serrated, necrotized with a foul smell and the skin around it undermined with pockets of blood.
These observations are characteristic of cutaneous filariasis thought to be caused by Stephanofiria dinniki in white rhino. The wounds are exacerbated ox pecker birds and bacterial infection.
Prognosis is good, wounds respond well to treatment
Treatment and conclusion
Thorough wash with water, dilute hydrogen peroxide and debridement of necrotic tissue. Tincture of Iodine soaked in gauze swabs was the applied
1% Ivermectin 300mg administered subcutaneously
20% Oxytetracycline 20000mg administered intramuscularly
The rhino unit was advised to monitor the animal and report after 10 days if repeat treatment is necessary.
The affected black rhino will require helicopter darting because it inhabits a thick bush.
Injured Grevys Zebra in Laisamis
Species: Grevy Zebra
Location: Naibei N 0149.603ʹ E03732.420ʹ
The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit was requested by scouts from the Grevy Zebra Trust (GZT) in Laisamis to attend to an injured grevy zebra. This animal showed lameness and swelling on its right forelimb.
The zebra occurred among herds of grevy zebras in community land in Naibei, Laisamis which are monitored by the scouts from the GZT.
Grevy zebra species are currently listed as endangered by the IUCN/ SSC Equid specialist group hence an urgent need to intervene whenever there are reports of injury or disease.
We used Etorphine Hcl 7mg and Xylazine 80mg in a 3cc Dan-Inject dart with a 2.0 40 mm needle. Darting was conducted by vehicle after a brief chase.
The dart was placed caudally on the left flank. Induction time (down time) was 8 minutes. On contact with the animal, opticlox ointment was applied on the dart wound and eyes to prevent desiccation of the cornea.
Vital parameters such as respiration and tissue perfusion were continuously monitored to ensure that the narcotized animal was stable.
After the procedure, Diprenophine 24 mg and Atipamezole 15mg were administered intravenously into the jugular vein to reverse the effects of etorphine and xylazine respectively.
Leg carrying lameness with a swelling on the right forelimb at the carpal joint and penetrating wounds laterally and medially. The wounds were suggestive of bites which may have been caused during territorial fights. Joint ligaments may have been torn.
Diagnosis: Traumatic injuries on the right carpal joint.
Prognosis for recovery is good though the joint may take some time to heal.
Thorough wash with plenty of water and topical application of Tincture of Iodine and Oxytetracycline spray
Anti- inflammatory drug: 5% Flunixin Meglumine 1000mg administered intramuscularly
Antibiotic: Amoxicillin trihydrate 3000mg administered intramuscularly
Cheetah with fracture in Solio Ranch
Age: 8 years
Owner: Solio ranch
Rangers in Solio ranch requested for treatment of a cheetah which showed lameness on its forelimb. The cheetah was reported to be in poor body condition because he was unable to hunt. The Meru MVU was called to immobilize the animal for examination and treatment.
We used Ketamine Hcl 100mg and Medetomidine Hcl 1mg in a single 1.5 milliliter DanInject dart with a 1.5 30 mm needle. Darting was conducted by vehicle with the dart placed on the right thigh muscles.
Induction time was approximately 10 minutes. On contact with the animal a blind fold put to prevent visual stimulation.
Leg carrying lameness on the left forelimb; body condition score was 2 on a scale of 1 - 5. On manipulation of the limb crepitus was felt at the humerus and palpation revealed bone fragments.
Diagnosis: Comminuted fracture of the humerus. The cause of the fracture was unknown.
Case management: euthanasia
Blood and ear tissue samples were taken for genetic studies
20% Pentobarbital sodium 10ml injected intravenously through cephalic vein.
Ranch management was advised to bury carcass
Comminuted fractures are difficult to manage under field conditions because they require specialized invasive surgical techniques to fix the humerus. The decision to euthanize this cheetah was made in consultation with the ranch management considering the welfare of this animal, age and its quality of life after surgical intervention.
Injured Elephant in Marsabit national park
Age: 11 years
Location: Bakuli, Marsabit NP
Rangers on patrol reported an elephant showing lameness with poor body condition in Bakuli, Marsabit NP. The elephant which could hardly move because of pain on its hind limb had been on the same spot for about 5 days. Visual inspection of the animal showed no injury.
Chemical immobilization and examination
We used Etorphine Hcl 12mg in a 1.5 milliliter DanInject dart with a 2.2 60mm needle.
Due to thick bush and bad terrain for vehicles in Marsabit NP darting was conducted on foot. The dart was placed on the left rump with the animal going down after 5 minutes. On contact with the animal its trunk was extended and nostrils were kept patent to prevent obstruction of the airways. A blindfold was used to prevent visual stimulation.
The animal was in poor body indicating that it was a long standing case. It had a swelling on the distal part of the right hind limb at the tarsus extending to the hoof. No significant findings (no foreign body nor pus) after thoroughly washing of the hoof with soap and water and aspiration.
Fracture of the tarsal bones was suspected which though rare may occur.
i. 0.1% Dexamethasone sodium 50mg administered intramuscularly
ii. Betamox trihydrate 30000mg intramuscularly
iii. Multivitamin 200ml intramuscularly
Prognosis: Guarded, this was a long standing case and the body condition had deteriorated significantly. The animal died after 5 days from the time it was treated.
Eye examination of blind black rhinos in Ol Jogi ranch
This activity was conducted in collaboration with the Lewa Veterinary Unit, Ol Jogi Ranch and veterinary ophthalmologists from Kenya and South Africa. Meru MVU assisted in immobilization and monitoring of anaesthesia in anaesthetized animals.
Two black rhinos 10 month old and 3 year old were immobilized using etorphine. Temperature, rate and depth of respiration and tissue oxygen perfusion were monitored during the procedure.
Ultrasound examination of the structures of the eye revealed extensive damage of the retina which could not be corrected by surgery in both cases.
The cause of blindness was thought to have been congenital.
Both animals were successfully reversed from anesthesia.
Post mortem examination of a black rhino in Aberdare national park
A rhino carcass with its horns intact was found near a water hole in Aberdare national park and a request was put to the Meru MVU for a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death. The carcass had been extensively consumed by hyenas therefore the viscera, gluteal and rectal parts were missing.
Methods used included flaying, incising and sectioning.
Findings: Carcass on right lateral recumbency with puncture wound on the left thoracic area with comminuted fracture of the rib. The wound was suggestive of a gun shot injury. No projectile was retrieved.
Cause of death: Injuries associated with gun shot
Report by:Bernard Rono