The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - December 2013

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Introduction    
The month experienced continued precipitation but with increased intensity. Much of the activities were restricted to early parts of the day as afternoons were characterized by heavy downpour which made mobility impossible. Among the major activities undertaken was ear notching of rhinos within the entire Masai mara conservation area which was carried out in collaboration with the KWS headquarters capture team and Narok county government.
During the month we handled the following cases:
 Case#1 Treatment of an injured male lion
 Date: 9th December 2013
History 
This lion christened scar face is among the marsh pride of Mara. The management of Governors camp reported having seen this lion limping and spending most of the time lying. They suspected he could have been involved in a fight with males from another pride. 
Capture and assessment 
Capture was achieved chemically by use of a combination of 290mg Ketamine Hcl  and 5mg medetomidine Hcl in a 3ml Dan inject dart delivered through Dan inject darting system. The drug was delivered on gluteus muscles and full anaesthesia achieved after 8 mins. The lion assumed sterna recumbency and for comfort he was placed on right lateral position after being blind folded. Eye ointment was used on the eyes to prevent dessication. All vital parameters were within range.
On closer examination the lion was found to be having a fresh laceration wound on its right paw. This appeared to have been inflicted by a sharp object which he could have stepped on while hunting. No other injury was noted.
Treatment 
The wound was cleaned with surgical spirit and iodine applied. Oxytetracycline spray was also applied. 3000mg Amoxycillin antibiotic and 20mg Dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory was administered i.m. 7mg ivermectin was also given subcutaneously to get rid of internal and external parasites. 
Reversal 
This was achieved by giving 18mg Atipamizole Hcl  1 hr after darting and treatment completed. He woke up 12 mins after reversal.
Prognosis
Good.

Scarface before treatment  The wound before treatment

The wound after it is cleaned  Disinfecting the wound

Scarface awake after the reversal drug is administered


Case #2 Assessment of an injured giraffe
Date: 9th December 2013
History.
This case was reported to the mobile veterinary unit by mara triangle management. The adult male giraffe is said to have been unable to rise up despite spirited attempts since the morning of that day.He was said to be alert continuously attempting to rise.
Assessment.
On arrival, we found the giraffe on sternal recumbency head held up, and attempting to rise. Its right hind leg was extremely abducted and could not support.  The other three limbs appeared to be anatomically functional. Any attempt to rise was futile and he kept on dragging himself on the ground.
Diagnosis and advice
This was a case of splaying with resultant damage to the obturator ligament of the right pelvis. This could have been a result of sliding in a slippery terrain with both hind limbs moving apart. Owing to the size of this giraffe healing could not be possible and prognosis was poor.
To save him from further suffering euthanasia was advised and effected.  

The injured giraffe unable to get to its feet  The giraffe is euthanized


Case#3   Injured elephant at Olarro conservancy.
History
The management of Olarro conservancy reported having seen this male elephant  who had been treated two months ago reappear with what appeared like septic right carpal joint.During that time,a suspected poisoned arrow was retrieved.
Immobilization and examination.
This was achieved chemically by use of 14mgs etorphine delivered through 3ml Daninject dart. The elephant was in a thicket and darting was done by foot. It took 8minutes for drug to take effect and the elephant assumed left lateral recumbency. He had adopted a three year old calf and a helicopter was used to scare away the calf before assessing the elephant.
On examination, it was found out that the earlier treated wound was becoming septic and required another treatment. No other abnormality was detected. The joint was still intact.
Treatment
Repeat treatment involving lavaging of wound with copious amount of water, debriding with hydrogen peroxide and irrigating with lugol’s iodine was done. Oxytetracycline spray was applied and green clay used for covering the wound. In addition, 15000mgs Amoxycillin antibiotic and 100mgs Dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory was given intramuscularly to speed up healing and reduce pain.
Reversal
Achieved by use of 48mgs diprenorphine delivered through ear vein. The elephant woke up in two minutes without complications.
Prognosis
Guarded.
No photos of this case were taken, limited team was dropped by helicopter because of bad terrain.
Case #4  Rhino ear notching exercise
Ear notching of rhinos and fitting them with transmitters and microchips is a routine activity for rhino conservation in Kenya. This enhances accountability and ease in tracing this endangered species. Microchips are put in strategic areas including the horns for ease of traceability incase of poaching incidents. This also gives more weight for prosecution if a poacher is nabbed with any trophy fitted with microchip. This exercise was conducted in conjunction with capture team from KWS headquarters, county government of Narok and Mara triangle conservancy total of nine rhinos were ear notched and fitted with microchips during the exercise that lasted for one week between 8th Dec to 16th Dec 2013.Helicopter darting was used during the exercise.
A combination of 4mgs etorphine and 60mgs xylazine was used in adults while sub adults used 2.5mgs etorphine and 40mgs xylazine delivered through Daninject darting system. Reversal was achieved by giving appropriate doses of atipamizole for xylazine and diprenorphine for etorphine intramuscularly.The exercise ended smoothly.

Darted rhinos for ear notching  Immobilized rhino

Earnotching completed  Inserting a microchip

Back on their feet after ear notching


Conclusion.
The mara mobile veterinary unit owes gratitude to David Sheldrick’s wildlife trust (DSWT) for their continued support of the unit. This has helped save many animals undergoing unwanted sufferings. Many thanks also go to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for their continuous help to the unit.

Report by Dr.Campaign K. Limo