The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - March 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT: MARCH 2015

Reported By Jeremiah Poghon

Introduction

In the month under review cases of injuries in elephant bulls especially those inflicted through arrow wounds remained the same with areas of Tsavo west around Komboyo still experiencing arrow incidents. Other cases were a rescue of the Taita salt lick elephant calf, rescue and treatment of a Zebra calf within Mwatate sisal estate and treatment of two elephant bulls with arrow and bullet wounds near Satao tented camp water hole. The area is expecting some showers which will greatly reduce the conflict inflicted injuries by availing more water and forage for the wildlife.

CASE#1 IMMOBILIZATION AND RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 9th March 2015

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Infant

Location: Savora Taita Hills Sanctuary

History

The calf was first treated on 14th February 2015 but one month later there was no improvement. After being monitored for the period, the herd moved away and left the mother and the calf who could not keep up. These exposed the sickly calf to predation from lions as the bigger protective family was gone hence a decision was made to rescue and save the calf and let the mother rejoin her herd.

Mother and baby started

Immobilization, treatment and relocation

The mother elephant was immobilised with 16mg Etorphine Hcl, in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart administered from a vehicle using a dart gun. After the she went down the calf ran off but was easily captured and immobilized using 2 mgs of Etorphine administered by hand.

The mother was also anaesthetised   A rescue is required for any chance of survival

The left front limb had a severe deep cutting wound near the ankle joint caused by a wire snare that was removed in a previous intervention. The wound was not healing as expected. The calf was treated and loaded into a truck then transported to the Sarova Saltlick airstrip while the mother was revived using 48 mgs of Diprenorphine Hcl and left to join the rest of the herd. An aircraft arrived some minutes past 6pm and airlifted the calf to the Nairobi DSWT orphanage.

The snare has cut through the joint  The young elephant is loaded

Prognosis

Good; the wound is now healing well with daily care and the elephant has integrated with the other elephants. It is hoped the wound will heal fully and though he may have a limp he should be able to live a normal life.

  The plane awaiting the calf as the sunsets

CASE#2 RESCUE AND TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ZEBRA FOAL

Date: 11th March 2015

Species: Zebra

Sex: Male

Age: Infant

Location: Teita Sisal Estate, Mwatate

History

The young Zebra was found by the Teita sisal estate in Mwatate by rangers lying beside the road and with bleeding wounds to the body. He was lying down with a makeshift shadow covering him. The wounds were suspected to have been inflicted by a male Zebra through biting and kicking.

A young zebra is rescued  The zebra wounds are examined

Immobilization, treatment and relocation

This infant was rescued and brought to Voi clinic where he was given Dextrose solution orally to give him strength. His wounds were washed using Hydrogen peroxide then sprayed with Oxyteracycline spray. Long acting antibiotics and Dexamethsone were administered parenterally.

The vet treating the zebra  

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH A BULLET WOUND

Date: 11th March 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History

This huge bull was spotted at the Satao water hole struggling to walk into the water and took a lot of time at the water hole before slowly limping away in pain. He was struggling to lift the right hind foot.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle using a Dan inject dart rifle. The elephant was darted near a water hole and was immobilized after 8 minutes. He fell on the lateral side and the team went into action with the rangers pouring water on the ears while the vet undertook the examination.

An injured elephant  

There was a penetrating wound to the right hind foot thought to have been caused by a bullet with pus oozing out. The wound was cleaned using Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water and doused with tincture of Iodine. Long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone were administered parenterally.

The vet examines the wounds  The elephant walks away following treatment

Reversal

The anaesthetic was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the Etorphine dose.

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 12th March 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History

Another elephant bull was reported with a wound on the left abdominal side with pus oozing from it. He was easily spotted in a group of other bulls foraging nearby.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle using a Dan inject dart rifle. The elephant was darted near Voi river and was immobilized after 8 minutes. The elephant fell on the lateral side with the wound on the upper side and the team went into action.

The wound on the elephant  The vet examines the wounds

There was a wound to the left flank thought to have been caused by an arrow with pus oozing out. The wound was cleaned using Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water, pus. Necrotic tissues were removed and the wound doused with tincture of Iodine. Long acting Amoxicillin and Dexamethasone were administered parenterally.

The wound is cleaned and treated  

Reversal

The anaesthetic was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the Etorphine dose.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE#5 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 13th March 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo West

History

Reports of several elephant bull were reported injured around Komboyo area of Tsavo west with pus oozing from the septic wounds. This specific big tusker was previously treated on 3rd February where an arrow wound was retrieved from the abdominal wall. This time it had an arrow wound to the left thigh which was oozing pus.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle using a Dan inject dart rifle. The elephant was darted near a water hole and was immobilized after 10 minutes. Aircraft support was requested as the elephant briefly vanished into thick bush in the area. The elephant was spotted and fell on lateral recumbency.

The elephant is darted for treatment  DSWT Aerial Assistance

There was a swelling on the right thigh with necrotic flesh visible in the wound. The swelling was lanced open, pus drained, necrotic tissue removed and wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. The wounds were sprayed with tincture of Iodine and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered by injection.

The vet examines the injured elephant  

Reversal

Reversal of the anaesthetic was attained by administration of 60 mgs of Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#6 DESNARING AND TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 18th March 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult (approx. 25 years)

Location: Arabuko Sokoke Forest

History

A report of an injured elephant was reported in Arabuko Sokoke forest near Malindi along the Kenyan coast. The forest is the only remaining indigenous coastal rain forest that teams with many wildlife species including the elephant. Due to the dry season there is no water point and animals have to be supplemented with provision of water. After searching for this elephant for two days, he was finally spotted near the fence line.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle using a Dan inject dart rifle. The elephant was immobilized after 7 minutes.and fell on lateral recumbency.

The snared elephant is found  A horrific snare wound

There was a tight deep cutting wire snare to the right front leg that caused a severe wound and swelling of the limb. The wire was cut loose using a wire cutter and necrotic tissues removed. The wound was cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide, then sprayed with tincture of Iodine and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered by injection. Water was splashed on the ears to keep the elephant cool as the day was hot.

The vet attending the case

Reversal

Reversal of the anaesthetic was attained by administration of 60 mgs Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously.

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded.

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 28th March 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult (approx. 35 years)

Location: Komboyo, Tsavo West

History

Reports of several elephant bulls were reported injured around Komboyo area of Tsavo west with pus oozing from the septic wounds. The team rushed in and assisted by the DSWT aircraft easily located the injured bull. Preparations were made to start the operations.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart from foot using a Dan inject dart rifle. The elephant was darted near a water hole and was immobilized after 7 minutes, falling on lateral recumbency. The aircraft kept watch due to the thick bush in the area so that the elephant could not be lost and easily spotted.

An injured elephant is darted for treatment  The Vet prepares for treatment

There was a swelling to the right abdominal wall with necrotic flesh visible in the wound. The swelling was lanced open, pus drained; necrotic tissue removed and wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. The wounds were sprayed with tincture of Iodine and covered with green clay. Long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatories were administered by injection.

Attending to the wounds  Pus is removed from the wound

Reversal

Reversal of the anaesthetic was attained by administration of 60 mgs Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously.

Prognosis

Prognosis good

Conclusion and acknowledgement

The unit would like to appreciate the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their continued support.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo conservation area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their contribution. Many thanks to Southern Conservation Mobile Vet Unit (SCMVU) based in Amboseli national park for holding brief while the Tsavo vet unit was on off duty.