The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - July 2015

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MONTHLY FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR MASAI MARA CONSERVATION AREA - JULY 2015.

By Dr.Campaign K. Limo.

Introduction

The month of July remained relatively calm with few cases requiring clinical intervention reported and attended to. Better parts of the month were characterized by poor to no precipitation with the signs of next cycle of rains in a couple of days being evident. Most animals especially elephants are abundantly seen within the reserve and conservancies, where there is plenty for them to feed on. Few wildebeests have crossed from Serengeti but more are expected to cross in the next month.

Following are cases handled during the month;

CASE#1 REMOVAL OF COLLAR FROM AN ELEPHANT

Date: 6th July 2015

Species: African elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Mara Triangle Conservancy

History

This female, named Maddy, was collared in 2012 and her collar was due for removal having expired. She was seen with a big group in the Mara Triangle in a relatively open area. Mara Elephant Project and Mara Triangle Management teams were on the ground monitoring her and called the Veterinary Unit to carry out immobilization and de-collar.

Immobilization and de-collaring

This elephant was in a big group in a relatively open area. She was restrained chemically by use of 16mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride delivered through a 3ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle with drugs taking full effect after ten minutes. She assumed right lateral recumbency. After making sure she was stable, the collar was cut loose and removed. General body examination was conducted and nothing requiring attention was seen. She was prophylactic ally given 20,000mgs Oxytetracycline intramuscularly before the anesthetic was reversed.

The elephant is darted and the collar removed  The female elephant after immobilisation

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride intravenously through the superficial ear vein. She woke up within four minutes to join the rest of the herd.

CASE#2 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 7th July 2015

Species: African elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Olkinyei Conservancy.

History

This massive bull collared a few months ago and christened Limo was seen with an injury by Olkinyei Conservancy rangers. For ease of tracking, Mara Elephant Project team were also informed and came immediately to help search for the elephant and assist in the entire process.

This massive bull was seen close to a small thicket alone. Though still in good body condition, there was a wound on his upper right thigh and big abscess slightly ventral to the wound. A decision to immobilize him for further examination and treatment was then arrived at.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

This elephant was immobilized using 17mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3ml Dan- inject dart from a vehicle and the drugs took effect after ten minutes. After putting him in a comfortable posture, examination of the injury was conducted. This revealed an injury possibly caused by an arrow which had since fallen off. This left a deep wound which was infected with purulent stuff accumulating in a pocket ventral to the wound. Tissues around the wounded area were also necrotic. This wound could have been up to two weeks old.

An elephant with an injury is seen  The elephant is darted for assessment

All the necrotic tissues were debrided with the help of Hydrogen Peroxide. The abscess was lanced on the ventral most point for ease of drainage. Further probing revealed that the wound communicated with the abscess. No foreign object was detected and the wound and abscess were copiously lavaged with water by through and through technique. The abscess was debrided with Hydrogen Peroxide and tincture of Iodine introduced to disinfect. Other treatments include parenteral administration of 30000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic and 4000mgs Flunixin meglumine anti-inflammatory.

The vet probes the injury  The abscess is cleaned of all pus and dead tissue

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 48mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride through the superficial ear vein. He woke up in four minutes without much struggle.

The anaesthetic is reversed  the elephant is expected to make a full recovery

Prognosis

This elephant is expected to make full recovery.

CASE#3 EUTHANASIA OF A YOUNG ELEPHANT BULL WITH FRACTURE

Date: 13th July 2015

Species: African elephant

Age: Young bull (18-20yrs)

Sex: Male

Location: Masai Mara National Reserve(Sand River area)

History

This injured young bull was seen by KWS and Mara National Reserve Rangers on patrol. They called the Veterinary Unit for assessment. The team found the bull alone and in a lot of pain. He could hardly move and could not use the affected limb. His right hind limb was swollen and he favoured it while attempting to move. He had begun to lose body condition.

Immobilization, examination and management

Immobilization was achieved by use of 12mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 1.5ml Dan-inject dart from a vehicle. The drugs took full effect in seven minutes with the elephant assuming right lateral recumbency posture. Detailed examination of the affected limb showed complete fracture of the distal tibia fibula bone. A large swelling with bloody exudate was evident at this point. The fracture could have occurred about three days prior to examination.

A lone elephant is seen limping  The vet team prepare to dart him for examination

After considering several factors including degree of injury and age of this elephant, euthanasia to end his suffering was advised and promptly effected. Tusks were recovered and taken by KWS security staff for accounting and custody.

The vet examines the injured leg  The leg was deemed too severe for recovery

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT COW

Date: 21st July 2015

Species: African elephant

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Sand River (Masai Mara National Reserve)

History

This elephant was seen with a group of about 20 elephants by the Cottar’s Camp guides having descended from a hill which borders Serengeti. They reported she walked with difficulty and was obviously limping on her front left limb. Together with Mara Reserve rangers, they called the Veterinary Unit for examination and action. The Vet Unit found her in still in the company of about 20 elephants with several babies. She was limping on her left front limb which appeared swollen at the elbow. She could occasionally place weight on this limb.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Restraint was achieved chemically by use of 15mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride delivered in a 3ml Dan-inject dart from foot due to poor terrain. Other members of the herd were scared away before darting. It took eight minutes for the drugs to take full effect and by then she had moved to a relatively open area. She fell on her left side and had to be flipped over using ropes and a vehicle for better view of the affected limb.

The elephant goes down after darting  Ropes and a vehicle are used to flip the elephant

Examination revealed a swollen elbow with no signs of dislocation or fracture. This could have been a sprain or strain of the joint. The teats were also active suggesting that she was nursing; a fact confirmed by the rangers and guides who saw her before with a 3year old calf. The calf was under the protection of the other herd members.

The vet examines the elephant  The wounded knee joint

She received 5,000mgs Flunixin Meglumine anti-inflammatory and 15,000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic, all parenterally. The joint was also massaged for 15 minutes to improve circulation.

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by administration of 42mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride through one of the superficial ear veins.

She woke up after three minutes and followed the rest of the herd.

The team prepare to reverse the anaesthetic  The elephant will be monitored in case a repeat treatment is needed

Prognosis

Favourable. Rangers were advised to monitor her progress and a repeat treatment scheduled to be carried out after three weeks.

CASE#5 INJURED LION

While treating this elephant a report of a big male lion with a suspected foot injury was reported within the same vicinity. This lion was found with his brother resting under a tree in good body condition. When agitated to move, they both stood and moved for a while round the tree before lying down. Nothing abnormal was detected as he moved without limping save for bruises on his face from territorial fights. Nothing warranting treatment was seen and both were left to enjoy their nap.

The lion did not require treatment

Conclusion

The Mara mobile veterinary unit would like to extend gratitude to all stakeholders who helped in identifying and reporting cases that required intervention. Thanks also to those who participated in the actual intervention process. Much appreciation to Minara foundation through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for their continuous facilitation to the unit. Thanks to KWS management for their guidance and help to the unit. Without all your contributions, the unit could not achieve all these in the interest of conservation and future generations.