The Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - March 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR AMBOSELI MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH 2014

Report by Dr. Michael Njoroge

Introduction

This month the Southern Conservation Area showed a marked increase in the number of cases being reported to the Mobile Veterinary Unit. This has been attributed to the dry weather in the region, which has resulted in more interaction between wildlife, livestock and humans and an escalation in conflicts. During the month, a combined team of the Kenya Wildlife Service Veterinary and Capture team and the Mobile Veterinary Unit undertook the translocation of 8 bull elephants from Engaronij area in Kajiado County to the Aberdare National Park and Amboseli National Park. These translocations were carried out in order to mitigate and reduce incidents of human-wildlife conflict.

Helicopter used to assist in the translocation  The elephant is prepared for transportation

Even this large truck struggled with the size of the elephant  

The elephant on its way to its new home  The elephant passing one of the reasons for its relocation

CASE#1 RESCUE OF ZEBRA FOAL

Date: 05th March 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: Female

Age: 2 months

Location: Oloile (Amboseli)

History

A female zebra foal was reported abandoned in Oloile, Amboseli ecosystem by rangers. Efforts were made to reunite with its mother but after 2 days these efforts proved futile and the decision was taken to rescue the foal.

  

Immobilisation and capture

Due to the age of the foal, the decision was made to restrain the foal physically rather than immobilizing her by darting. Once captured the foal was relocated to the DSWT stockade at Voi for further nurturing and care.

  

CASE#2 RESCUE OF ZEBRA

Date: 18th March 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: Female

Age: Foal

Location: Namelok (Amboseli)

History

A young female zebra was reported to be stuck in a dried well in Namelok area. The young zebra had been stuck for about 6 hours down the deep hole. The Mobile Vet Unit was alerted and attended the scene.

The zebra foal in the dried well  The dried well was very deep

Immobilisation and rescue

After assessing the situation, the Mobile Vet Unit decided not to dart the zebra for retrieval due to the depth of the hole. Instead ropes were lowered down into the empty hole and placed securely around the foal’s flank and she was raised out of the water hole.

The strap was lowered down the well  The strap was secured around the zebra's flanks

After being assessed by the Vet Unit for any injuries she was released back into the bush.

The zebra is recovered from the well  The zebra is released back into the bush

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 19th March 2015

Species: Elephant (Loxdonta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 20 – 30 yrs

Location: Chyulu Hills

History

Big life rangers patrolling in the Chyulu Hills spotted a bull elephant with a suspected arrow injury to the top of his trunk. The rangers reported the case to the Mobile Veterinary Team who attended the case. Due to the thickness of the vegetation in the area where the bull had first been spotted, the Vet Team had to use a helicopter to locate and assess the elephant. Once located, plans were made to immobilize, examine and treat the elephant. Despite the thick bush, the elephant was relatively easy to dart from the helicopter after being pushed to slightly more open ground.

  

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The bull elephant was immobilized using 18mg Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3ml Dan Inject dart administered from a helicopter. The elephant went down on his side after about 15 minutes. The trunk was kept open using a piece of stick placed across the nostrils and the ears were used as blindfolds. Due to the high ambient temperature, the bull was doused with water to keep him cool.

  

Upon closer examination, the elephant was found to have an approximately 1-2 week old 14 inch deep wound to his trunk, which was believed to have been  caused by a bullet and not an arrow as originally reported.

  

 

The wound was septic and contained necrotic tissue. The dead tissue was debrided and removed and the wound was thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide.

  

The wound was then lavaged using Tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay were applied into the wound to facilitate healing and to avoid infection. The elephant was injected with 100ml Amoxicillan, 1200mg Clindamycin and 100ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 30 minutes.

  

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administering 60mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride into the ear vein. It took about 6 minutes for the elephant to come round fully from the anaesthetic.

  

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 21st March 2015

Species: Elephant (Loxdonta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 30 – 35 yrs

Location: Komboyo (Tsavo West National Park)

History

While on a routine patrol, the DSWT pilot spotted an injured elephant. They reported the incident to the Mobile Veterinary Unit who immediately made plans to attend to the case. The elephant was located in thick bush and the terrain was rocky, so darting from a helicopter was considered the best option. The DSWT provided a helicopter for the exercise.

Elephant after darting  Preparing to treat the elephant

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3ml dart. Darting was done using the Dan Inject system from a helicopter. Full immobilization took place after 15 minutes and the elephant fell on his side. His trunk was kept open using a stick placed across the nostril entrances and his ears were used as blindfolds. Due to the high temperatures in Tsavo, water was doused onto his head and ears to keep him cool.

Making an incision to drain the pus  Draining the pus

Upon physical examination, the elephant was found to have a penetrating wound to his right flank. The wound was septic and contained pus. The wound was thought to have been caused by an arrow. The dead tissue was debrided, the wound was drained of about 3 litres of pus and an arrow head was removed from the wound.

Debriding the wound  The arrowhead removed from the wound

The wound was then thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide and lavaged using Tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay were packed into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection.

The debrided wound  Cleaning the wound

Finally the elephant was injected with 200ml Oxytetracycline and 100ml Flunixine Meglumine at different sites intramuscularly. The operation lasted about 40 minutes.

Treating the wound  Packing wound with green clay

 

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 54mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride into the ear vein. It took about 6 minutes for the elephant to awaken fully from the anaesthetic and walk away from the site.

The elephant getting up  The elephant walking away

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE#5 TREATMENT OF INJURED ZEBRA  

Date: 22nd March 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: Male

Age: 3 – 5 months

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

A young zebra with an obvious injury was spotted by the Mobile Veterinary Team while on routine patrol. The Vet Team immediately made the decision to immobilize and examine the zebra.

  

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was immobilized using 3 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride and 20 mgs Azerperone in a 2ml dart. Darting was done from a vehicle using the Dan Inject system. Full immobilization took place after 5 minutes and he fell on his side. The zebra was blindfolded and opticlox was applied to the eyes to avoid damage.

Upon physical examination, the zebra was found to have a swelling and a septic injury to the left humeral joint, which could have been caused by an attack from a predator.

  

The wounds were thoroughly cleaned during clean water and Hydrogen Peroxide, and rinsed using saline solution. Dead tissue was debrided and the wounds were lavaged using Tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay were applied onto the wounds to facilitate healing and to avoid infection. Finally, the zebra was injected with 20ml Amoxicillan and 20ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted 20 minutes.

  

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administering 12mg Diprenorphine Hydrogenchloride intravenously and took about 4 minutes.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF INJURED ZEBRA

 Date: 23rd March 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Sidai Oleng (Amboseli Ecosystem)

History

An injured male zebra was spotted by the KWS Intelligence team while on routine patrol. The Mobile Veterinary Team attended to the case and decided to immobilize, examine and treat the zebra.

  

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was immobilized using 7 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride and 60 mgs Azerperone in a 3ml dart. Darting was done from a vehicle using the Dan Inject system. Full immobilization took place after 6 minutes and he fell on his side. The zebra was blindfolded and opticlox was applied to the eyes to avoid damage.

  

The zebra was observed to be lame as a result of an old, but healing injury. The limb was swollen at the hock joint, but no external injuries were visible. The zebra was injected with 50ml Amoxicillin and 50ml Flunixine Meglumin at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted 15 minutes.

  

Reversal

Immobilisation was reversed by administering 21mgs Diprenorphine Hydrogenchloride and took about 4 minutes.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF INJURED ZEBRA

 Date: 24th March 2015

Species: Plains Zebra (Equus quagga burchelli)

Sex: Male

Age: 3 – 4 months

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

A young zebra was spotted within the park by Amboseli Trust for Elephants with a swollen right fore limb. The Mobile Veterinary Unit attend the case and darted the male zebra for examination and treatment.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was immobilized using 3mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride and 20mgs Azerperone in a 2ml dart. Darting was done from a vehicle using a Dan Inject system. Full immobilization took place within 4 minutes and he fell on his side.

  

Upon physical examination the zebra was found to have an infected wound to his right forelimb. The young zebra had suffered a compound open fracture, probably as a result of a fall. A decision was made to euthanise the zebra using 10 ml Euthenize.

  

CASE#8 TREATMENT OF INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 24th March 2015

Species: Elephant (Loxdonta africana africana)

Sex: Male

Age: 35 – 40 yrs

Location: Satao (Tsavo East)

History

The Big Life Rangers based in the Satao region spotted an injured elephant in the area while on their routine daily patrols. They made a report to the Mobile Veterinary Unit in Amboseli and the Vet Team immediately made plans to attend to the case. On arrival, the elephant was found in thick bushy terrain and therefore darting from foot was the only option.

  

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3ml dart. Darting was done using the Dan Inject system from foot. Full immobilization took place after 12 minutes and the elephant fell on his side. His trunk was kept open using a stick placed across the nostril entrances and his ears were used as blindfolds.

  

Upon physical examination, the elephant was found to have a penetrating wound to his left flank. The wound was septic and contained pus. The wound was thought to have been caused by a spear that had since fallen out. The dead tissue was debrided and thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide and lavaged using Tincture of Iodine.

  

Topical antibiotic cream and green clay were packed into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. Finally the elephant was injected with 100ml Oxytetracycline and 100ml Flunixine Meglumine at different sites intramuscularly. The operation lasted about 30 minutes.

  

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 54mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride into the ear vein. It took about 8 minutes for the elephant to awaken fully from the anaesthetic and walk away from the site

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 to achieve our goal. 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.