The Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - February 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR AMBOSELI MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2015

Report by Michael Njoroge

Introduction

During the month of February, the Southern Conservation Area Mobile Veterinary Unit performed normal routine patrols for monitoring and surveillance. During the exercise, the team undertook the following activities:

  • Survey of the distribution of wildlife within the ecosystem
  • Check for injured/sick animal within the ecosystem.
  • Check for any unnoticed carcasses within the park and its surrounding ecosystem
  • Check for any unusual incidents or activities within the park and ecosystem.
  • Monitoring of previously treated animals.

Lion and Lioness  Mother and baby elephant at the marsh

CASE#1 RESCUE OF ELEPHANT FROM WATERHOLE

Date: 7th February 2015

Species: African Elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Makindu (Chyulu Hills)

History

News reached the Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit of a male elephant that had been reportedly stuck in a water hole in Makindu area for 8 hours. The veterinary team attended to the case and on assessing the situation made a decision not to dart the elephant before the rescue due to the depth of the water hole.

The elephant was rescued using a digger  Male elephant caught in a mud hole

A construction digger was made available, thanks to a nearby Chinese construction company, which was used to dig an access path out of the waterhole for the elephant. The whole operation took about four hours and when the path was made, the elephant walked out of the water hole, tired and relieved, and returned to the bushes.

Prognosis

Good

CASE#2 WILDLIFE MORTALITY INVESTIGATION

Date: 13th February 2015

Species: Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) & Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: Female Zebra

Locations: Kimana Sanctuary (Amboseli Ecosystem)

History

The Mobile Vet Unit responded to a case of unusual wildlife mortality, where 2 Egyptian Geese and a Plains Zebra had died in the same area. 

Investigation and Sample Collection

The three mortalities had occurred within the period of one week. The carcasses indicated that the animals were in good body condition (4 out of 5) prior to death, but showed signs of heavy poisoning. Samples were collected from the kidneys, liver and intestinal tract of the animals and were also taken from nearby water sources. The samples have been set to the laboratory for further analysis. 

Unusual substances in the Goose GIT  Haemorrhage in the Goose GIT

Haemorrhage in the Zebra GIT  Water source

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF INJURED BULL ELEPHANT

Date: 16th February 2015

Species: African Elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 35 – 40 yrs

Location: Oldare (Amboseli)

History

KWS rangers spotted a lame elephant within the Amboseli ecosystem and reported the case to the Mobile Vet Unit. The team attended to the case and decided to immobilize the elephant for examination and further treatment.

The injured elephant   The bull elephant under anesthetic

Immobilization Examination and Treatment.

The elephant was immobilized using 18mg Etorphine Hydrochloride using a 3 ml Dan Inject dart, which was administered from foot. The first dart failed to discharge, so a second dart was used and the elephant went down on its side after 45 minutes. Due to the high ambient temperature, the elephant was doused with water to keep him cool. The elephant’s trunk was kept open using a stick placed across his nostril entrances and his ears were used as a blindfold.

The wound before cleaning  Cleaning the wound

On physical examination the elephant was found to have a penetrating wound (1-2 weeks old) to his left hind limb. The wound was septic and contained necrotic tissue. The wound was likely to have been caused by a spear, which had fallen out over time. The dead tissue was debrided and removed. The wound was thoroughly cleaned using clean water and Hydrogen Peroxide and then lavaged using tincture of Iodine.

The wound after cleaning  The vet treating the bull elephant

Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. Finally, the elephant was injected with 100 ml Amoxicillan, 1200 mg Clindamycin and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 25 minutes.

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administering 60 mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride into the ear vein. It took about 8 minutes for the animal to be fully awake from anaesthesia.

The elephant recovering from the operation  The bull elephant after recovery

Prognosis

The elephant was retreated after 2 weeks using the same procedure, by which point he had moved to Satao. He exhibiting signs of improvement and looked to be on his way to recovery. However, his prognosis is still guarded.

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF INJURED BULL ELEPHANT

Date: 17th February 2015

Species: African Elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 35 – 40 yrs

Location: Tsavo West National Park, Tsavo River

History

An elephant with a swollen right forelimb was spotted in the vicinity of the Tsavo River by the DSWT pilot and reported the case of the Mobile Vet Unit. The team attended to the elephant and decided to dart him for examination and treatment

Immobilization Examination and Treatment.

The elephant was immobilized using 17 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 2 ml Dan Inject dart which was administered from a helicopter. Full immobilization took place after 8 minutes and he fell on his side. The elephant’s trunk was kept open using a piece of stick which was placed across the nostril entrances and his ears were used as blindfold. Water was doused on the elephant to cool him down due to the high ambient temperature.

The elephant's injured forelimb  Cleaning the wound

On physical examination the elephant was found to have an infected wound to his right forelimb.The injury was suspected to be a gunshot wound. On palpation no crepitation could be felt so the team decided to go ahead and treat the elephant and confirm the diagnosis in a few days. The dead tissue was debrided and the wound thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine.

The wound  Cleaning the wound

The bull was injected with 100 ml Oxytetracycline, 3 vials Clindamycin and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. Finally, topical antibiotic ointment and grey clay was applied on the wound to facilitate healing. The operation lasted 30 minutes.

The vet operating on the elephant  The wound after being packed with green clay

Reversal

Reversal was achieved using 54 mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride, which was injected into the ear vein. The elephant was awake after 6 minutes.  

Prognosis

The elephant was retreated one week after his initial treatment. During this time, the male elephant had grown extremely weak, had shown no signs of improvement, and had barely moved 100 meters from the point of last treatment. A decision to euthanize the elephant was made, but before it could be done and due to his poor physical condition the elephant died while under anaesthesia. The tusks were removed and handed over to KWS for safe custody.

  

  

CASE#5 RESCUE OF ZEBRA FOAL

Date: 21st February 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: M

Age: 1 week

Location: Amboseli

History

A young zebra was reported to be abandoned in Amboseli by the KWS rangers. The mother had died as a result of a suspected poisoning. A decision was made to capture him and relocate him to the KWS Nairobi animal orphanage.

Immobilization Examination and Treatment.

Due to the age of the foal, the decision was made to physically restrain the animal, rather than dart him. The foal was loaded onto a Land Cruiser and relocated to the KWS Nairobi animal orphanage.

Prognosis

The zebra is in good health and chances of survival are high.

Orphaned Zebra in Land Cruiser  Orphaned Zebra in Land Cruiser

Orphaned Zebra   Orphaned Zebra

CASE#6 RESCUE OF A ZEBRA FOAL

Date: 22nd February 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: F

Age: 2 days

Location: Amboseli

History

A second zebra in as many days was reported abandoned by Amboseli rangers. Efforts were made to reunite it with its mother, but these proved futile. The decision was made to capture the animal

Immobilization Examination and Treatment.

Due to the age of the foal, it was decided that the foal should be physically restrained rather than darted. Once captured, the foal was relocated, using a Land Cruiser, to the DSWT Voi stockade to be cared for.

Prognosis

The zebra has a good chance of survival.

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF BULL ELEPHANT

Date: 23rd February 2015

Species: African Elephant (Loxodanta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 45 – 50 yrs

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History

While on their routine patrol of the Satao area, the Tsavo East rangers spotted an injured elephant. They reported the incident to the Mobile Vet Unit and the team immediately responded to the case. DSWT provided aerial support to locate the elephant. On arrival, the elephant was found in open ground and was darted from a vehicle for closer examination and treatment.

The team deciding how to access the wound  The Bull Elephant after darting

Immobilization Examination and Treatment.

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart topped up using water for injection. Darting was done from a vehicle was using the Dan-inject system. Full immobilization took place after 14 minutes and he fell on his left side. However, in order to access the wound, he had to be flipped with the help of two Land Cruisers. His trunk was kept open using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances and his ears were used as blindfold.

Flipping the Elephant with two Land Cruisers  Flipping the Elephant with two Land Cruisers

Upon examination the elephant had a penetrating wound to his left flank region. The wound was septic, contained pus and had plenty of necrotic tissue. The wound was likely to have been caused by an arrow, which had fallen out over time.

The vet assessing the wound  The wound

The dead tissue was debrided and removed.

Debriding the wound  Necrotic tissue

The wound was then thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide before being lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Lastly, topical antibiotic cream and green clay was applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection.

Checking the wound further  The wound now clean

The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Amoxicillin and 100 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 30 minutes.

Reversal

Reversal was achieved using 54 mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride administered into the ear vein. It took about 7 minutes for the elephant to wake fully from the anesthesia.

The elephant waking up  The elephant walks away

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#8 TREATMENT OF INJURED BUFFALO

Date: 24th February 2015

Species: African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Ngulia, Tsavo West

History

An adult female buffalo that was exhibiting obvious lameness was spotted by KWS rangers. The Mobile Veterinary Unit attended to the case and decided to immobilize the buffalo for examination, though no physical injury could be observed.

Immobilization Examination and Treatment.

The buffalo was immobilization from a vehicle using 12 mgs Etophorine Hydrochloride and 30 mgs Azerperone in a 3ml Dan Inject dart. Immobilization took 14 minutes.

The buffalo is darted  The buffalo goes down in thick bush

On physical examination the buffalo was found to have a swollen left forelimb, but no other physical injury could be observed, leading to a suggestion that she could have suffered from a predator attack. The buffalo was injected with 50 ml Amoxicillin and 50 ml Flunixin Meglumine at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 20 minutes.

Assessing the injury  Treating the buffalo

Reversal

The buffalo was revived using 36 mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride given both intravenously and intramuscularly. Recovery from anesthesia was quick and the buffalo stood up and walked away after about 5 minutes.

The buffalo wakes up  The buffalo is back on its feet

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

Conclusion

The Southern Conservation Area Mobile Veterinary Unit is grateful to all individuals and organizations that played a role in assisting us throughout the year. Many thanks especially to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, The Samuel J and Ethel Lefrak Charitable Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service for their continued support, which allows this unit to alleviate animal suffering by immediately responding to clinical interventions and wildlife rescues.

Elephant at the marsh  Giraffe feeding