The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - November 2014

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MERU VETERINARY UNIT MONTHLY REPORT FOR NOVEMBER 2014

Report by: Bernard Rono

INTRODUCTION

Meru conservation area and its environs experienced heavy rains in November, which marked the beginning of the short rains. This came as a big relief after a prolonged dry spell with a quick recovery of pastures.

During the month the Meru Veterinary Unit participated in the Meru conservation area large mammal census which aimed at monitoring elephant distribution and population trends. The unit also treated an injured elephant and a white rhino among other cases described below.

CASE #1 SNARE REMOVAL IN OSTRICH

Date: 7th November 2014

Species: Somali Ostrich

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Mulika Plains, Meru National Park

History

This ostrich had a loose wire snare around its left hock joint and was reported by rangers on patrol in Meru national park. On receiving this report the veterinary team immediately immobilized the ostrich to remove the snare.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The snared ostrich was located in group of five adult males. Etorphine hydrochloride 5mg and Metedomidine hydrochloride 12mg was prepared in a single 3cc Dan inject dart was administered into the thigh muscle using a dart gun from a vehicle. Induction time was 5 minutes after which the ostrich stumbled and fell down onto sternal recumbency.

The ostrich is found to be lame with a snare injury  The ostrich is darted and the eyes covered for treatment

On contact with the immobilized ostrich he was blind folded and its head was raised above the body to prevent regurgitation. Examination showed a loose wire snare and bruises around the hock. Snare knot was untied and topical antibiotic was applied on the bruised leg.

The snare is wrapped around the leg  Wire cutters are used to remove the snare

Reversal

To reverse the anesthesia Diprenophine hydrochloride 18mg with Atipamezole hydrochloride 5mg was injected intravenously into the superficial veins of the wing. He came around after one minute and ran off to join the rest of the flock.

The snare is removed so the wounds can be treated  The ostrich is on its way again, free from the snare

Prognosis

Good

CASE # 2: MERU CONSERVATION AREA AERIAL CENSUS

The Meru conservation area large mammal aerial census was conducted on 9th to 16th November 2014. This census was aimed at monitoring elephant and other large mammal population trends and distribution in the Meru ecosystem and trends in land use changes outside protected areas.

The specific objectives of the census were:

  • Determine elephant and other large mammal population and spatial distribution
  • To map human activities such as charcoal burning, settlements and farming within and outside the protected areas
  • Determine the population and distribution of livestock in the ecosystem

This exercise was funded by the Kenya Wildlife Service with support from various stakeholders including the David Sheldrick Wildlife trust, Born Free foundation and Space for Giants. Census participants included ecologists, pilots, conservation managers, GIS experts, data analysts, procurement officers and communication experts.

The vet team on the census  Flying over a plain looking for wildlife

The Meru conservation area includes Meru and Kora national parks, Mwingi, Bisinadi and Rahole national reserves and the northern grazing zone (NGZ).

Four aircrafts were used during the aerial count covering a 10,500 km2 area divided into 14 regular blocks. Each aircraft had GPS devices for navigation, recording the survey path and observation waypoints. Transects in a block were set at one kilometer apart. Streamers were used to demarcate a 500 meter section on either side of the aircraft for counting at 300 feet above the ground. All observations were geo-referenced and sound recording devices used for data collection.

The aerial team   A fleet of vehicles

Wildlife species counted include elephants, reticulated giraffes, grevys’ zebra, black and white rhinos, buffalos, eland, lion, ostrich, Grants’ gazelle, thompson gazelle, zebras and oryx. Livestock species counted were cattle, camels, sheep and goats. Human activities such as charcoal burning and settlements within and bordering protected areas were recorded. Land under agriculture was estimated in acres and recorded.

A herd of elephants sighted during the census  Flying over a river on the census

Results from this census will inform wildlife managers and policy makers on resource allocation for security operations and conflict management. Common challenges facing elephant conservation in northern Kenya include poaching for trophies (horns and ivory), habitat encroachment and habitat destruction, livestock incursion into the protected areas, human- elephant conflict. The census is part of a global monitoring system for elephant populations, a CITES requirement which form a basis for wildlife trade related decisions on ivory trade.

CASE#3 EUTHANASIA OF A SERVAL CAT

Date: 16th November 2014

Species: Serval Cat

Sex: Male

Age: Sub-adult

Location: National Park

History

A sub-adult male serval cat in Meru national park suffered traumatic injuries after it was hit by a vehicle on 16th November 2014.

Examination

Examination showed he was quadriplegic due spinal cord injuries.

Prognosis

There was no hope of recovery and the decision was made to euthanize the cat to prevent further suffering. This cat was euthanized by intravenous Euthatal injection through the cephalic vein.

CASE#4 SNARE REMOVAL FROM AN ELEPHANT 

Date: 25th November 2014

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Sub Adult – Approximately 8 years old

Location: Naromoru forest, Mt. Kenya National Reserve

History

On 24th November the senior warden Mt. Kenya national park reported an injured sub-adult elephant in Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve. He was alone having been abandoned by his herd mates and was showing severe lameness, however, the forest guards could not clearly determine the problem due to thick forest undergrowth.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilized for examination and treatment on November 25th following a search in the morning Etorphine hydrochloride 6mg with Hyaluronidase 1000 i.u was prepared in a 1.5cc dart that was administered from foot into the dorsal lumbar muscles. Induction time was 7 minutes with the elephant falling onto sternal recumbency. For examination he was pushed onto left lateral recumbency and the trunk was stretched to ensure patency.

A young elephant is spotted with a snare around the leg  The vet darts the elephant from foot in thick bush

Examination showed a swollen left forelimb with a septic wound inflicted by a tight snare around the carpus. The snare was deeply embedded in the leg muscles and was made from tough synthetic fabric with several strands of fiber causing severe tissue strangulation.

The snare has caused a serious injury to the foot  First the snare is removed with wire cutters

To cut the snare we used a scalpel blade and carefully removed it. The wound was debrided using dilute Hydrogen peroxide to remove pus and dead tissue debris. Povidone iodine was infused into the pus filled sinuses and antimicrobial drug Betamox trihydrate 9000mg was injected intramuscularly.

The wound has to be cleaned extensively  Green clay is then applied

The green clay is prepared for application  The vet prepares for treatment

Reversal

To reverse the effect of anesthesia Diprenophine Hcl was administered intravenously through superficial ear veins.

The elephant is revived and quick to his feet  He is strong and his prognosis is good

Prognosis:

This animal is expected to make a full recovery.

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF EYE INJURY IN A WHITE RHINO

Date: 29th November 2014

Species: White Rhino; Number 70W16

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Meru National Park, Rhino Sanctuary

History

The warden in charge of rhino in Meru National Park reported that a male white rhino had a serious right eye infection which required veterinary attention. This was a geriatric male whose territory was close to a rhino monitoring base in the park where he frequently visited. On this particular day he was taking a bath in a mudpool at this base. 

He is seen and the injury reported to the vet team  The rhino has a severe infection of the eye

A quick observation showed a swollen right eye with pus exudates and he was immobilized for treatment.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

For immobilization a combination of Etorphine Hcl 5mg and Azaperone 60mg was prepared in a single 3cc DanInject dart with a 2.0 × 60mm needle. He was darted from foot with the dart delivered into the left gluteal muscles. Induction time was 8 minutes after which the animal was roped to sternal recumbency for examination and treatment. Butorphanol tartate 60mg was administered intravenously to improve respiration.

The vet team darts the rhino quickly  The rhino succumbs to the anaesthetic

Right eye examination showed traumatic kerato conjunctivitis, subconjuctival hemorrhages and purulent eye exudates.

It is possible the infection will result in permanent blindness  The vet team examine the eye

He was treated with subconjuctival injection consisting of Penstrep 3cc with Dexamethasone 1.5cc. Betamox trihydrate 200ml was administered intramuscularly.

Antibiotic cream is applied to the eye  Treatment is adminstered

Prognosis

Infection though contained may result in unilateral blindness and he should be monitored closely.

The anaesthetic is reversed   The rhino is soon back on his feet and into the bush

OTHER CASES

  1. The senior warden of Nyahururu station reported an injured elephant in Rumuruti forest which required veterinary attention. A search for the elephant on 21st to 23rd November including aerial support provided by Jamie from Ol Jogi ranch was not successful. 
  2. The team visited El Karama ranch in Laikipia on 26th November after scouts reported a wounded elephant. This elephant could not be traced after it was reported to have crossed to a neighboring ranch. The management was advised to monitor.