The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - November 2014

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MONTHLY FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR MASAI MARA FOR NOVEMBER 2014

Reported by Dr.Campaign K Limo

Introduction

The month was characterized by decreased tourism activity with a similar drop in veterinary cases attended to. There was also a drop in precipitation but pasture and forage are still adequate for grazers and browsers. Though rare in the past, snaring is slowly taking root within this conservation area, notably in the Mara triangle. A zebra was saved from a life threatening snare which was tightly embedded around her girth. Cases handled during the month were, retreatment of an elephant initially treated in October for a spear wound, lions for various injuries and a white rhino for an eye infection amongst other cases.

CASE#1 RE-TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 10th November 2014

Species: African elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Young adult

Location: Aitong

History

This elephant was treated a month prior for a spear inflicted injury to his right carpal joint. The wound was on the inner surface of the joint but had accessed the joint capsule. During the initial treatment the Save the Elephant Rangers and KWS security rangers on the ground were advised to monitor this elephant as a repeat treatment would be necessary after two to three weeks. They duly followed the instructions and traced this elephant for re-treatment.

This elephant had moved from where he was first treated and was traced to a thicket near a water hole. Body condition had not changed as he has been able to feed. He was still limping on his right forelimb, though he could bear some weight on it, and he appeared to have improved slightly. A decision to immobilize him for further treatment was made.

The elephant in need of a second treatment  The joint is healing well from the spear wound

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized by use of 13mgs Etorphine hydrochloride delivered through a 1.5mls Dan inject dart. Darting from foot was the only feasible option as the elephant was in a thicket. The drugs took effect after eight minutes by which time the elephant had moved to a relatively open area. As it was hot the elephant was doused with a lot of water to keep him cool. Examination of the wound revealed that healing process was going well and the joint capsule was closing, though there was still residual swelling of the joint. The wound was gently cleaned with copious amount of water, wiped dry with gauze swabs before tincture of Iodine was applied. The limb was handled gently to preserve the healing joint capsule and by extension the joint. Cloxacillin ointment was infused into the wound before it was packed with green clay. In addition 1500mgs Clindamycin and 15000mgs of Amoxicillin antibiotics were administered intramuscularly. To relieve pain and reduce swelling 120mgs Dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory was also given intramuscularly.

The vet team examines the elephants injuries  The vet cleans the wound which is healing well

The Vet team prepares the antibiotic  The vet reverses the anaesthetic

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 36mgs Diprenorphine through the ear vein. The elephant woke up in two minutes and dashed back to the thicket.

The elephant wakes up  The elephant heads back into the bush after treatment

Prognosis

Good

CASE#2 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED LIONESS

Date: 12th November 2014

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age: Adult (About 15 years)

Location: Musiara gate near Governors camp (Masai Mara National Reserve)

History

This lioness, christened Bibi, is thought to be the oldest female of the famous Marsh Pride lionesses. The Governor’s camp guides noted that she had gone missing for a week before resurfacing with several injuries and in poor condition. They duly informed the Vet Unit of this development who responded to assist.

Bibi was resting with a number of Marsh Pride members under a tree. She looked emaciated and in pain. There was a visible injury to the distal part of her left hind limb and on her left flank. A decision to immobilize her for further examination and treatment was made.

Bibi is seen looking thin and in pain  Bibi has injuries to her left foot and flank

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved chemically by use of a combination of 4mgs Medetomidine and 260mgs Ketamine in a 3ml Daninject dart from a vehicle. Bibi struggled to take a few steps before giving in to the effects of anesthetics after eight minutes. Examination revealed a severe wound to the distal part of her left foot with a fracture of the distal part of 4th metatarsal bone, bite wounds to her left flank and another wound slightly ventral to  her left heal. All the wounds appeared to have been caused by a fight with another lion or hyenas and were beginning to become septic.

The vet team dart Bibi and cover her eyes for treatment  The metatarsal of the foot is broken

The wound to the distal part of the limb was the most serious. Apart from the fracture, it was infested with maggots which were manually removed with the aid of forceps. A decision was made to extract the protruding fractured distal part of the fourth metatarsal bone and this was surgically dissected out.

The vet removes the broken metatarsal and closes the wound  The foot has been badly damaged

Bleeders were effectively ligated and the resultant space was closed with absorbable suture using a simple interrupted pattern. Amoxicillin ointment was applied into the suture line and then green clay was used to cover the wound. The other bite wounds to this area were debrided with Hydrogen peroxide, wiped clean with sterile gauze before tincture of Iodine was applied. Amoxicillin ointment and green clay were also used to cover these wounds. The other wounds to the heal and flank were handled the same way as the septic bite wounds. In addition, this lion was given 3000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic intramuscularly and 80mgs Ivermectin parasiticide subcutaneously.

All the wounds are cleaned and treated  Antiseptic spray is then applied to the wounds

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by intramuscular administration of 16mgs atipamezole 2hours after immobilization.

The anaesthetic is reversed and Bibi wakes up  Bibi gets to her feet following treatment

Prognosis

Favourable.

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF FEMALE WHITE RHINO

Date: 14th November 2014

Species: White rhino

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Olchoro Oirua Conservancy

History

The team was called to examine one of the two rhinos remaining in the Olchoro Oirua Conservancy. One rhino is an adult female and the other a young male, both kept in a semi captive environment. They are released to graze during day time under constant vigil by armed rangers and brought to spend the night in their bomas. The Mara North Conservancy management called to request our help to treat this female rhino who had been suffering from an eye problem for one week.

This white Rhino has an eye infection  The rhino is led back to her stockade

We found the two rhinos already out grazing in good body condition. The left eye of the female rhino had excessive lacrimation. The rhino was exhibiting photophobia and she kept closing the eye. We decided to immobilize this rhino for further examination and treatment.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The rhinos were brought back to the boma and the male separated from the female in one of the paddocks. She was immobilized by use of a combination of 4.5mgs Etorphine and 80mgs Azaperone in a 1.5ml Dan inject dart. It took eight minutes for the rhino to be fully anaesthetized assuming right lateral recumbrency.

The rhino is darted in her stockade for treatment  The rhino succumbs to the anaesthetic

Examination of the eye revealed inflamed conjunctiva and that the structures of the eye were intact so a diagnosis of infectious kerato conjunctivitis was given. The eye was gently cleaned with normal saline before a combination of 300mgs Amoxicillin and 1mg Dexamethasone sodium subconjuctival injection was administered. In addition Amoxicillin ointment was infused into both eyes.

The vet team assesses the eye  Antibiotic cream is then applied

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 75mgs Naltrexone intravenously through superficial ear veins and an additional 12mgs Diprenorphine was administered intramuscularly. The rhino woke up after four minutes.

The anaesthetic is reversed and the rhino starts to stir  The rhino with her male companion following treatment

Prognosis

Good

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED LIONESS

Date: 16th November 2014

Species: Lion

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Mara Triangle

History

This injured lioness was seen and reported to us by the Mara triangle management. It was thought that the lioness had possibly picked a fight with other lions possibly from a different pride. This lioness was in the company of another female with tiny cubs and was relaxing at the edge of a thicket. Obvious wounds were seen on the left side of her face and left flank. She made a slight move when she saw us but with difficulty as she appeared to be limping on her left hind quarter.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of a combination of 4mgs Medetomidine and 250mgs Ketamine delivered through a 3ml Dan inject dart from a vehicle. The lioness moved slightly into the thicket but was overwhelmed by the anesthetics seven minutes after darting. The nursing mother was scared away and the injured lioness taken out of the thicket to be examined and treated in the open. Both eyes were infused with Cloxacillin eye ointment before a face towel was put in place.

The lioness is darted for treatment and her eyes covered  The vet cleans the wounds

Examination revealed multiple bite wounds variously distributed. The wounds could have been there for about two days. One big wound was on the left side of the face just above the left eye, another on the left side of the flank while another bite wound was on the left thigh. There was also a small wound on the inner surface of the left ear. No wounds were observed on the right side of the body. All the wounds were handled the same way. The wounds were debrided with Hydrogen peroxide, wiped clean with gauze swabs, disinfected with tincture of Iodine and then Cloxacillin ointment applied. Externally Oxytetracycline spray was applied. 

The team quickly assess her wounds and start treatment  Antibiotic cream and antiseptic spray are applied

In addition, the lioness was given an injection of a combination of 3000mgs Amoxicillin trihydrate and 500mgs Clavulate potassium antibiotics intramuscularly. To reduce inflammation, 16mgs Dexamethasone sodium was also administered intramuscularly.

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by intramuscular administration of 15mgs Atepamizole one hour after immobilization. The lioness woke up after ten minutes and walked into the bush.

The lioness wakes up after treatment  She is expected to make a full recovery

Prognosis

Good

CASE#5 TREATMENT OF A SNARED ZEBRA

Date: 18th November 2014

Species: Common zebra

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Mara Triangle, near Serena lodge

History

This zebra was seen by the Mara Triangle Patrol Rangers who called to request the Vet Units help in de-snaring and treating the animal. Zebra snaring is now becoming rampant in this area. 

This zebra was found restless and in a lot of pain. She could be seen standing for a few minutes, lying down and standing up again. She even made efforts to remove the snare by trying to bite it but unfortunately the snare was deeply embedded into the thoracic muscles.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by darting 5mgs Etorphine and 50mgs Azaperone in a 1.5ml Dan inject dart from a vehicle and the zebra succumbed to the drugs after five minutes.

The zebra is darted so the vet can remove a wire snare  The snare is wrapped tightly around her girth

Examination revealed a tight braided winch wire snare round her girth that had burrowed deep into the girth muscles on her right side. The withers were also severely injured by the snare. The wire was cut loose and pulled out. The resultant wounds were washed with copious amount of water, debris removed by use of Hydrogen peroxide and swabs, before tincture of Iodine was applied to disinfect. In addition Oxytetracycline spray was applied topically and 300mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic was administered intramuscularly to counter sepsis.

Wire cutters are used to remove the snare  The snare has dug deep into her skin

The wounds are treated after the snare is removed  Antiseptic spray is applied to the wounds

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 18mgs Diprenorphine intravenously through the jugular vein and the zebra woke up to join the rest of the herd after two minutes.

The zebra gets to her feet free from the snare  The zebra moves off to join her herd

Prognosis

Good

CASE#6 ELEPHANT BULL AT MARA NORTH CONSERVANCY

Date: 19th November 2014

Species: African elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Mara North Conservancy.

History

This massive bull collared and christened Omondi, was sighted in one of the farmlands close to Mara North Conservancy in the company of another relatively young male. The farm security personnel were concerned and informed KWS security of the situation. There was fear that the elephants could destroy crops so the KWS security team joined forces with the Mara Elephant Project and using a helicopter managed to drive the two jumbos out of the farms. In the process, they discovered Omondi had a wound near his right shoulder requiring intervention and contacted the Vet Unit.

Omondi had taken cover in a thicket and could only be observed after he was driven out using the helicopter. He was in good body condition save for a suppurating wound behind his right shoulder.

Immobilization examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved using 16mgs Etorphine delivered through a 3ml Dan inject dart. Given Omondi kept trying to go back into the thicket, the vet darted him from the helicopter which then hovered to keep him at the edge of the thicket. He finally gave in to the effects of drugs after eight minutes assuming sterna recumbrency. He was immediately pushed over to lie on his left side exposing the wound on his right.

A collared elephant is darted for treatment  The elephant has an abscess

Examination revealed Omondi had an abscess just behind his right shoulder which had ruptured but retained some pus. The opening of the abscess was extended and all the pus drained out. The wound was probed using forceps and thoroughly cleaned using copious amount of water, Hydrogen peroxide and gauze swabs. This was followed by flushing with tincture of Iodine and application of Cloxacillin ointment. Finally green clay was packed into the wound.

The vet team are quick to assess the seriousness of the injury  The abcess has to be completely cleaned out

All the pus is removed   Green clay is finally applied to prevent further infection

In addition Omondi was given 15000mgs of Amoxicillin antibiotic intramuscularly.

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 48mgs of Diprenorphine intravenously through the superficial ear vein. Omondi woke up after four minutes to join his friend in the thicket.

The elephant wakes up after treatment  The elephant moves off into the bush

Prognosis

Good

CASE#7 POST MORTEM OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 24th November 2014.

Species: African elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Female

Age: Young adult (about 16 years)

Location: Oloolaimutia.

History

A dead elephant was reported to the Vet Unit by the KWS security team at Oloolaimutia and the team responded to conduct a postmortem and determine cause of death.

General examination

  • The carcass could have been 24hrs old
  • This young adult appeared to have been in good body condition before death with a body score of 4 on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is poor and 5 perfect
  • The elephant appeared to have strained with all the four quarters fully extended assuming left lateral recumbrency position
  • There was evidence of some struggle before death at the scene
  • The integrity of the carcass had been tampered with and part of the abdomen already opened by curious members of the public
  • Both tusks were retrieved and taken for accounting and safe custody by KWS staff
  • Examination of the skin showed no percutaneous injury before death
  • The vulva appeared edematous with jelly fluid freely flowing

On opening the carcass, the following finding was significant:

  • A fully formed fetus at term was engaged with foetal membranes ruptured but foetus not expelled. Both amniotic and allantoic fluid was freely flowing as a result of this rupture
  • The soft inner pelvic structures were hemorrhagic suggestive of prolonged pressure on these tissues
  • All other internal organs appeared sound and displayed no unexplained post mortem changes.

Conclusion

From the above postmortem picture, the cause of death for this elephant was complications associated with dystocia. The elephant then developed birth difficulties and was unable to expel the foetus. Prolonged straining led to fatigue and given that the foetus was engaged other physiological functions such as micturition were functionally obstructed. This with other associated complications is fatal.

There were signs of struggle and it appears she died giving birth  A fully formed foetus was removed from the birth canal

Security team on the ground was advised to be careful in future and fully guard the carcass and scene before postmortem is carried out by a professional. This will ensure the integrity of the carcass is preserved and guarantees the quality of the postmortem procedure.

CASE#8 POST MORTEM OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 24th November 2014

Species: African elephant

Age: Sub adult. (About 8years)

Sex: Male

Location: Oloolaimutia

History

The carcass of this young elephant bull was seen by the KWS security team on patrol. This carcass was found at a distance of about 500 metres from the first carcass. A postmortem to ascertain the cause of death and whether the circumstance of this death was related to the first case was requested.

General examination

  • The carcass appeared to have been in perfect body condition before death. Body score was above 4.5
  • No signs of struggle before death at the scene
  • This carcass was relatively fresh estimated to be less than 12hrs before examination
  • Tusks were intact and were retrieved for accounting and safe custody by the KWS security team on the ground
  • The carcass was lying on its right lateral position
  • On flipping the elephant over, an arrow was found sticking from the right side of his neck, just behind the right ear

On opening the carcass, the internal organs appeared normal save for excessively darkened blood. The muscles around where the arrow had lodged were dark and appeared gangrenous. This was a case of systemic poisoning. The arrow had been laced with poison and this caused death of this young elephant bull. Because of the small size of tusks, the intention appeared to be just to kill and not to poach so could well be a conflict case.

It was determined this elephant died from a poisoned arrow  The team were called to do a postmortem on this young male elephant

CASE#9 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT BULL

Date: 28th November 2014

Species: Elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Age: Young adult

Sex: Male

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve- Keekrok lodge Area.

History

This young elephant bull was spotted by Masai Mara Reserve Rangers alone and frail. They notified immediately the Mobile Veterinary Unit for attention.

This elephant was evidently frail and in pain. He was isolated and had taken cover in a small thicket. An open wound was evident on the right side of his hip and another wound with purulent discharge could be seen on the right side of his flank. A foul odour was emanating from these wounds that could be smelt from a distance. This elephant was in poor body condition with an estimated body score of 2 out of 5.

This elephant was seen with a large spear wound to the hip  The vet examined the injury and determined the spear had caused a lot of damage

Immobilization examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved by use of 10mgs Etorphine in a 3ml Dan inject dart from a vehicle. It took eight minutes for the drugs to take full effect with the elephant assuming sterna recumbrency. He was pushed to lie on his left lateral before examination was conducted.

Examination revealed that the two wounds were connected. There were signs of pneumothorax as air breathed in could be heard escaping from the wounds. Both wounds were also heavily infested with maggots. This wound was caused by a spear which entered through the hip area and partly exited through the flank.  Because of restlessness and movement through the thickets, this spear could have fallen out. These wounds could have been there for about 10 days.

The spear had gone through to the other side  The vet examining the depth of the injury

All the maggots were manually removed before the wounds were debrided with Hydrogen peroxide and gauze swabs. Tincture of Iodine was applied and finally a coat of green clay was used to pack the wound. In addition this elephant was given 15000mgs of Amoxicillin and 100mgs Dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory intramuscularly.

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 30mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride intravenously through the superficial ear vein. This elephant struggled to get up and only did so with assistance.

The prognosis for this elephant is guarded  The elephant required assistance to stand after treatment

Prognosis

The prognosis for this elephant is poor. The county security patrol team was advised watch this elephant and give immediate feedback on the progress.  

Conclusion

Masai Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit is grateful to all stakeholders and individuals who contributed in one way or another to various treatments and rescues undertaken during the month. Much appreciation is given to KWS through the Veterinary department for continuous support and guidance to the Unit. Many thanks to Minara foundation through The David Sheldrick wildlife Trust for their facilitation to the unit and their continuous collaboration with KWS which has seen many wild animals saved and rescued.