The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - May 2013
Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
The Meru mobile veterinary unit attended to several cases of injuries to wildlife in the month of May 2013. These include:
1. A black rhino in Ol Pejeta conservancy was treated for wounds sustained in territorial fight
2. A white rhino in Meru national park was treated for lameness
3. An elephant in Borana ranch had a spear penetrating into its abdomen. The animal was immobilized to remove thespear
4. Two white rhinos in Meru NP suffered gun shot wounds. One died and a post mortem was performed. The second rhino was treated and is recovering.
5. Two white rhinos in Meru NP were immobilized for treatment of wounds suspected to have been caused by filarial worms
1. INJURED BLACK RHINO IN OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY
Species: Black rhino
Id. Number: 4008
GPS Coordinates: N 00 14. 200' E 037 45.240'
Owner: Ol Pejeta Conservancy
The security officer at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC) reported that an old male black rhino was limping, an injury suspected to have been sustained in territorial fights.
The black rhino was first seen on 2nd May 2013 with wounds on the lower perineum and head. With intense monitoring for 2 days the security patrol team reported that the rhinos health had deteriorated, the animal could hardly move from the area where it was first seen and the wounds were septic.
On 6th May the Meru mobile veterinary unit immobilized the injured animal for examination and treatment.
A fixed wing plane monitored the rhino movements during darting. The rhino was docile; therefore, darting was done on foot. We used a single 3cc DanInject dart containing Etorphine (M99) 5mg and 10% Azaperone 60mg with the dart placed on the gluteal muscles.
Induction time was 7 minutes, the rhino did not move far after darting. 5% Butorphanol 5mg was administered immediately on contact with the animal to improve its respiration.
The rate and depth of respiration was monitored throughout the procedure.
Physical examination and treatment
Fair body condition score of 2 on a scale 1 - 5
Infected puncture wound 7 cm 10 cm deep, caudal and dorsal to the eye on the left side of the head,
abrasions on the skin at the hind quarters with infected wounds
wounds on the prepuce with swollen protruding penis
Thorough wash and dead tissue debridement using dilute hydrogen peroxide
Topical application of iodine
Betamox LA 30grams administered intramuscularly
This animal will make a complete recovery, however, due to its advanced age and deteriorating body condition there is need for urgent measures to prevent future attacks from younger males. This may include relocating the animal to habitat where there is less competition.
2. LAMENESS IN WHITE RHINO IN MERU NATIONAL PARK
Species: white rhino
Id. Number: 70W46
Sex: Female with 10 month old calf
Coordinates: GPS N 00 11.420'
E 038 05.637
The warden in charge of the rhino sanctuary in Meru national park (MNP) reported on May 8th, 2013 that a female white rhino showed lameness which required immobilization to determine the cause and treat accordingly. The animal was reported to have been limping for 7 days with an infected wound discharging pus on the left hind limb. She had a 10 month old calf hence we needed to mitigate risk of separation during the darting process by ensuring minimal disturbance during the procedure.
We attended to this animal on May 10th after securing a helicopter for darting.
We used a combination of etorphine Hcl 5mg and 10% azaperone 60mg in a single 3 cc DanInject dart. The animal went down within 5 minutes. Vital parameters were monitored during the procedure including respiration and immobilized animal doused with water to prevent hyperthermia.
After the procedure anesthesia was reversed by an intravenous injection of Naltrexone 150mg into the ear vein.
Findings and treatment
Physical examination revealed a puncture wound 10 cm in diameter on the left hind limb at the lateral part of the stifle joint. The wound seemed to have been caused during a territorial fight. Manipulation of the limb did not reveal fractures. Soft tissue injury was suspected as the cause of lameness.
i. Wash with hydrogen peroxide to remove pus and flushing with iodine
ii. 5% Flunixin meglumine 2000mg injected intramuscular
iii. 20% Oxytetracycline LA 16000mg injected deep intramuscular
Prognosis for recovery is good. The rhino was soon reunited with its calf when she woke up from anesthesia.
3. TREATMENT OF ELEPHANT FOR SPEAR INJURIES IN BORANA RANCH
Lewa radio room reported on May 24th, 2013 that a male adult elephant had been sighted in Borana ranch with a spear on its flank which required urgent veterinary attention. The elephant was suspected to have been a victim of attempted poaching.
Rangers on patrol monitored this individual as they waited for the Meru veterinary team to immobilize the elephant to remove the spear and treat the wounds.
A quick assessment revealed a male elephant approximately 15 years old. We used etorphine Hcl (M99) 12 mg and Hyaluronidase 1500mg in a single 3cc DanInject dart. Darting was done on foot due to rocky hilly terrain which could not be assessed by vehicle.
With the dart placed on the left hind gluteal muscles the animal fell on sternal recumbency within 5 minutes.
On contact with the animal its trunk was extended to ensure patent airway and optimal breathing. Ear flaps was used to cover the eyes and water doused liberally to cool the animal.
Diprenophine Hcl 36mg was injected intravenously to the superficial ear veins to revive the animal from anesthesia.
Physical examination revealed the following:
A spear dorsally on its left flank with a wound 10 cm in diameter penetrating at least 30 cm long into the abdominal cavity.
Lameness on the right forelimb with swelling and a wound caudally at the level of the proximal interphalengeal joint. Probing with a forceps revealed a superficial pocket of pus which did not seem to penetrate into the joint
i. Spear was removed carefully with minimal injury to internal organs. Opticlox ointment was liberally applied to prevent peritonitis
ii. Wounds on the forelimb were flushed with dilute hydrogen peroxide and iodine applied
iii. Betamox LA 15000mg administered by deep intramuscular route
iv. Ranch management was advised to monitor the elephant
This animal is expected to make a complete recovery.
4. INJURED WHITE RHINOS IN MERU NATIONAL PARK
The warden in charge of rhino sanctuary at Meru national park (MNP) reported that on the night of May 26th, 2013 several gunshots were fired in block 1 of the sanctuary by suspected poachers.
In the morning a search revealed a white rhino carcass with poached horns while his companion a male adult white rhino showed severe lameness suspected to have been caused by gunshot injuries on the left forelimb and shoulder.
The Meru MVU attended to these cases on May 27th, 2013.
i. Treatment of injured white rhino
Standard immobilization procedure was followed. A combination of Etorphine Hcl (M99) 4mg and Xylazine Hcl 80 mg was used in a single 3 milliliter DanInject dart. Darting was done from a helicopter.
Induction time was 23 minutes; the animal was roped down after an injection of additional 2mg etorphine IM and manipulated to sternal recumbency for examination and treatment. Respiration rate and oxygen tissue perfusion was monitored during the procedure to ensure the animal was stable.
After the procedure, anesthesia was reversed using a combination of Naltrexone 150mg and Atipamezole 10 mg injected intravenously into the superficial ear veins.
This animal showed severe lameness on the left forelimb with blood oozing from tiny wounds on the shoulder which are characteristic of bullet injuries.
Examination revealed three penetrating wounds into the muscles of the upper arm at the left forelimb. On probing with a forceps one of the bullets seems to exit cranially at the brisket.
A forth bullet wound penetrated through the fifth rib, the extent of damage to internal thoracic organs could not be determined.
i. The wounds were flushed with povidine iodine and Oxytetracycline 1 gram boli inserted to prevent bacterial infection.
ii. Parenteral 30% Oxytetracycline 30ooo mg injected deep IM
iii. 0.1 % Dexamethasone 50mg injected deep intramuscular route
Prognosis for full recovery is guarded. Complications from gunshot injuries such as fractures and septicemia are difficult to manage. The warden in charge of the sanctuary was advised to closely monitor the animal and report on its progress.
ii. Post mortem examination of white rhino carcass
This was a male white rhino, 3 years 10 months old called Lala which died on the night of May 26th, 2013. Post mortem examination revealed the following:
We found the rhino on left lateral recumbency with both horns poached
Two bullet wounds penetrating into the thoracic cavity cranial to the scapula of the right forelimb. In addition a wound penetrating the intercostal space fractured the 11th rib. Projectile head was recovered.
On opening the carcass, one bullet penetrated the diaphragmatic lobe of the right lung causing massive internal bleeding.
Possible cause of death: Lung trauma
5. CUTANEOUS FILARIOSIS IN WHITE RHINOS IN MERU NATIONAL PARK
This report describes the capture, treatment and release of two male white rhinos that were affected by ulcerative cutaneous lesions in Meru national park (MNP).
Rangers on routine patrol in the rhino sanctuary at MNP reported on 23rd May 2013 that two white rhinos had wounds which required treatment. Both individuals were adult males known as Bahati and Mutoro.
A team comprising the KWS veterinarians and laboratory personnel immobilized the animals on 27th May for examination, sample collection and treatment.
Infected rhinos were immobilized using Etorphine (M99) 5mg with 10% Xylazine 80mg delivered in a single three milliliter DanInject dart. Darting was done from a helicopter which also monitored darted animals and directed a team on the ground to the animal. Immobilized animals were stabilized using 1% Butorphanol tartate 5mg administered intravenously into superficial ear vein. The animal was placed on sternal recumbency for examination and treatment.
Respiration rate and tissue oxygen perfusion were monitored physically and by a pulse oximeter attached to the ear respectively during the procedure.
After the procedure anesthesia was reversed using 5% Naltrexone 150mg and Atipamezole 10mg administered intravenously into the superficial ear vein.
1. Bahati (Male, Adult)
Expansive T shaped wound 30cm 30cm on the thigh of the right hind limb (Figure 1, 2).
The lesion was superficial characterized by redness, erosive ulceration and crust formation. The edges of the lesion were serrated.
2. Mutoro (Male, adult)
Expansive circular wound on the thigh about 15 cm in diameter on the thigh right hind limb (Figure 3).
Scar tissue formation, lesion seemed to be healing.
Sample collection and Treatment
Venipuncture: 20 ml blood was collected from deep digital vein and dispensed into plain and EDTA vacutainers for serum and whole blood respectively.
Skin tissue samples: surgical excision of affected skin for histopathology examination.
Skin scrapings from the lesions which will be analyzed microscopically for filariae
1. Dead tissue debridement by washing with hydrogen peroxide and scrubbing
2. Topical application of Iodine
3. Ivermectin 200mg injected subcutaneously
4. 20% Alamycin LA 100ml injected intramuscularly
These animals are expected to make full recovery within 2 months as observed previously in similar cases following treatment.
The findings in the two white rhinos which were immobilized are characteristic of cutaneous filariosis thought to be caused by Stephanofiria dinniki. The wounds are exacerbated ox pecker birds and bacterial infection.
A third white rhino an adult female (Makena) had a lesion on the rump but because she had a 3 week old calf she was not darted to avoid separation.
Cutaneous filariosis has previously been described in white rhinos and black rhinos in MNP by Mutinda et al., (2012). Some of the putative risk factors for an outbreak of the disease include heavy rainfall, wet, bushy and thick undergrowth.
Lesions in black rhinos generally do not require intervention and have been reported to heal without treatment. However, for white rhinos the wounds seem to grow big and treatment is required. Treated animals responded well to treatment though huge scars were observed when the wounds healed.
In conclusion there is an urgent need for studies to isolate the causative agent, elucidate risk factors and ways to prevent the disease.
1. Mutinda M., Otiende M., Gakuya F., Kariuki L., Obanda V., Ndeereh D., Ndambiri E., Kariuki E., Lekolool I., Soriguer R., Rossi L. and Alasaad S., (2012). Putative filariosis outbreak in white and black rhinoceros at Meru National Park in Kenya. Parasites and Vectors 5: 206
6. OTHER CLINICAL CASES
i. On 7th May 2013 the Senior Warden, Aberdare national park reported that a KWS tracker dog in Solio ranch had suffered fight wound on its lower eyelid.
Examination revealed a laceration 2cm long on the left lower eyelid.
Wash with warm water and apply opticlox eye ointment
Betamox LA 60mg administered by deep intramuscular route
Tablets Betamox 40 mg twice daily for 5 days
ii. Two buffalos and a water buck were reported to have snares on their limbs in Serena, Mountain Lodge. Attempts to dart the water buck were not successful. The buffalo did not show up.
iii. Sub mandibular edema and debility was reported in mountain bongos at the Mount Kenya conservancy. Suspected cause helminth infestation. Management advised to use albendazole, a broad spectrum anthelminthic.
Report by: Bernard Rono