The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - August 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST2015

Reported By Jeremiah Poghon

Introduction

The area experienced an increase in cases of injuries from poaching attempts especially of adult bulls near Ithumba north of Tsavo by use of arrow shots. Another case of injured sub adult bull was treated near Kaluku DSWT headquarters. In areas of disease diagnosis after last month’s positive testing for rabies in a jackal, a Hyena that attacked a worker at Tsavo camp within the park and later killed also tested positive for rabies. Other cases attended to included treatment of a speared elephant in Amboseli national park, rescue of a young elephant bull that got stuck in mud near Jaldesa camp, Galana River, treatment of an elephant calf injured by lion attack and undertaking autopsy of elephant carcases.

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 4th August 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Calf

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

History

The elephant calf was spotted near the Satao camp water hole with its mother struggling to drink water. The calf appeared in great pain and was carrying leg lameness of the front left limb. Close approach to the calf was not possible as the mother was protective and aggressive. A decision to immobilise both the mother and calf to prevent them from separating was arrived at.

Immobilisation, examination and treatment

The mother was immobilised with 16 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart from a dan inject dart gun and she went down after 7 minutes with the calf beside her. Physical restraint of the calf was difficult and 2 mgs of Etorphine was administered by intravenous injection which calmed him down.

Immobilising both the mother and calf  The calf being immobilised

There was a deep injury to the left hind limb at the elbow joint with the joint infected. The injury is believed to have been from lion bite attacks in attempted predation. The wound was squeezed to remove pus and cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide.

Cleaning the wound

Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were applied before afinal cover of wetted green clay was packed in the wound. An intravenous administration of 15 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 20 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

Reversal

The anaesthetic was reversed by administration of DiprenorphineHcl at three times the Etorphine dose. They both woke up at the same time and walked away together.

Reviving the mother and calf

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded

CASE#2 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH A SPEAR WOUND

Date: 5th August 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age:Adult

Location: Kitirua gate, Amboseli National Park

History

Report was received from the KWS security officers of an injured elephant bull spotted near Kitirua gate within Amboseli National park with what appeared to be a spear wound to the right abdominal wall and oozing blood. As the resident vet was away, the Tsavo vet was airlifted by KWS aircraft to the area to attend to the injured bull. He was easily spotted nearby foraging on grass.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mg EtorphineandXylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart using a Dan injectdart rifle from a vehicle.The Elephant was immobilized in 7 minutes and went down lying on the left flank.

Immobilising the bull elephant  Prepping for procedure

A fresh deep penetrating spear wound was observed to the right abdominal wall. Theblood was drained and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide.

Cleaning the site of the wound

Tincture of Iodine was sprayed into the wound and wetted green clay applied. Dexamethasone Hcl and long acting Amoxicillin were administered intravenously and intramuscularly respectively.

Cutting into the wound to remove the pus  Cooling and cleaning the bull elephant

Reversal

Anesthetic reversal was done by administration of DiprenorphineHcl intravenously through the ear vein. The elephant easily woke up and walked away.

Prognosis

Good

CASE#3 RESCUE AND TREATMENT OF A YOUNG ELEPHANT BULL

Date: 6th August 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age:Sub Adult

Location: Jaldesa camp, Tsavo East National Park

Rescue

This young bull got stuck in the muddy banks of Galana River near Jaldesa camp after trying to forage within the river banks. The report was received late in the evening and the team rushed to the area in the morning to find the struggling elephant nearly submerged in thick mud.

Elephant found stuck in the muddy bank of the Galana

The team went in with ropes and vehicle but experienced a lot of difficulties due to the steep banks, thick vegetation and muddy surrounding. The elephant was pulled out of the mud but could not wake up due to weakness.

Elephant pulled out of the mud for treatment

It was finally pulled out of the river banks and into dry land and assisted onto his feet. The operation took 7 hours to complete. He was treated for massive Hyena bites on the ears by administration of long acting antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Cleaning the wounds from hyenas  Administering long acting antibiotics

Reviving the young bull elephant  Revived post treatment

Prognosis

Prognosis is guarded

CASE#4 CALF STUCK AT PIPELINE

Date: 7th August 2015

Species: Elephant

Age:Infant

Location: Mzima Pipeline, Tsavo East National Park

A calf was reported stuck at the Mzima Pipeline. The Veterinary Unit responded quickly but the report came in to late and the calf was dead on arrival.

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

Date: 10th August 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age:Sub Adult

Location: Kaluku, Tsavo east National Park

History

An elephant bull was seen by DSWT pilot near the airstrip with a wound on the right thigh that was oozing pus. The vet team was airlifted to the area.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart using a Dan injectdart rifle from a helicopter.The helicopter prevented the elephant from running into thick bush whilst the drugs took effect. He was immobilized in 7 minutes and went down lying on the injured flank. Ropes fastened to the front legs were used to roll him over using the vet vehicle. A penetrating arrow wound with accumulation of pus below it was observed. An incision was made at the lowest point of the pus filled pouch; the pus was drained and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide.

Examining the wound  Removing the pus and dead tissue

Tincture of iodine was sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied.

Draining the pus from the wound  Tincture of iodine sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied

An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hclwas given through the ear vein and long acting amoxicillin administered parenterally.

Reversal

The anesthetic was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine at three times the Etorphine dose intravenously through the ear vein.

Reversing the anesthetic   The revived bull elephant walking away

Prognosis

Good.

CASE#6 Rabies diagnosis in Hyena

Date: 10th August 2015

Species:Spotted Hyena

Sex: Male

Age:Adult

Location: Tsavo safari camp, Tsavo East National Park.

History

Rabies is acute encephalitis caused by global RNA viruses in the genus Lyssavirus, family Rhabdoviridae. Virtually every mammal is susceptible to rabies but the natural disease occurs predominantly in domestic and wild carnivores. In different geographic areas, usually one or two species predominate as vectors. In Tsavo Rabies was previously diagnosed in a Zebra foal bitten by a dog in Chyulu and a tourist was infected, and later succumbed, to rabies after being scratched by a bat in Tsavo West National Park.

A male Hyena was killed by staff of Tsavo safari camp on the banks of Galana River after it attacked one of their staff members biting his arm and causing serious injury. The hyena walked across the camp in the morning incident of 10th August 2015 without fear of people and showed signs of vocalization, aggressiveness, biting objects before cornering the boat operator and injuring him at the banks of the River. The Hyena was killed immediately.

The dead hyena with Rabies

The injured worker was airlifted to Voi county hospital where he was treated and put on PEP vaccination. The Hyena was beheaded and the head preserved in a freezer before being submitted to the veterinary investigation laboratory in Mariakani for Rabies diagnosis. The results were received one week later being positive through rapid antigen test and sellers stained slide microscopy tests. This is the first case of Rabies diagnosis in Hyena in Tsavo. Due to the distance between this case and last month’s Rabies diagnosis in Silver backed jackal we think these are isolated incidences and not a sign of an outbreak of Rabies in the Tsavoecosystem.

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 12th August 2015

Species:Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Ithumba, Tsavo East National Park

A report was received from Ithumba in the north of Tsavo east of an injured elephant bull that is well known to the orphanage keepers there. A plane was sent down to Voi to pick the vet for fast response. After search the initial bull was not spotted but another two were seen with injuries.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart using a Dan injectdart rifle from a vehicle whilst the helicopter was used to keep the elephant from running into thick bush.

Sky Vet helicopter searching for the elephant  Finding the injured bull elephant

The Elephant was darted and was immobilized after 20 minutes and went down lying on the right flank exposing the wounded side. A penetrating arrow wound was observed to the left abdominal wall.

Site of the inflamed wound

An incision was made at the lowest point of the swelling so the pus could be drained and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Tincture of iodine was sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied.

An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was administered through the ear vein.

Reversal

To reverse the anesthetic an intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was administered through the ear vein.

Prognosis

Good

CASE#8 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL WITH ARROW INJURIES

Date: 12th August 2015

Species:Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Ithumba, Tsavo East National Park

History

After the team was through with treatment of the first elephant, they embarked on treating a huge bull with big tusks also with arrow injuries.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart using a Dan injectdart rifle from a vehicle whilst the helicopter was used to keep the elephant from running into thick bush. The Elephant was darted and the helicopter attempted to guide it  to an open area near the airstrip but it refused and was immobilized after 8 minutes, lying on the injured flank.  Ropes and a tractor were used to turn him over to access the injured side. A penetrating arrow wound was observed on the left abdominal wall.

Ropes and tractor used to move the elephant onto the right side  Examining the site of the wound

An incision was made at the lowest point of the pus collection under the skin. The pus was drained and wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Tincture of iodine was sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied.

Wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide  Removing pus and dead tissue

An intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein.

Intravenous administration of Dexamethasone Hcl

Reversal

The anaesthetic was reversed by intravenous administration of Diprenorphinehcl at 3 times the Etorphine dose. He struggled to get up and once more the tractor was called in, the elephant was tied with ropes and pulled onto its feet.

Reversing the anesthetic

Prognosis

Good

CASE#9 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 13th August 2015

Species:Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Ithumba, Tsavo East National Park

History

After the team were through with the treatment of the two elephants and returned to Voi the elephant being sought initially for treatment re-appeared.The next morning the vet team was quickly airlifted by the DSWT aeroplane from Voi where they found the helicopter on standby to assist in the operation.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart using a Dan injectdart rifle from a vehicle whilst the helicopter was used to keep the elephant from running into thick bush. It was immobilized after 12 minutes and went down lying on his chest but shortly fell on the injured side. Ropes and a tractor were used to turn him over to access the injured side. A penetrating arrow wound was observed on the left abdominal wall. An incision was made at the lowest point of the wound. The pus was drained, the dead flesh cut out and the wound cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Tincture of iodine was sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied.

Removing dead flesh from the wound  Finishing treatment of the wound before revival

An intravenous administration of dexamethasone Hclwas given through the ear vein and long acting amoxicillin administered by intra muscular injection.

Reversal

Reversal of the anaesthetic was attained through intravenous administration of Diprenorphinehcl at 3 times the Etorphine dose. He struggled to get up so the tractor was called in and with the use of ropes the elephant was pulled to his feet. The helicopter pushed him away from the teams involved in treatment.

Prognosis

Good

CASE#10 TREATMENT OF A SECURITY DOG

Date: 13th August 2015

Species:Domestic Dog

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Tsavo Vet Clinic

History

A security dog involved in anti-poaching activities based in Dakota camp, Tsavo east was treated for anorexia and weakness at the vet clinic and recovered well. The dog, known as Julie responded well to treatment and follow up revealed recovery.

CASE#11 EXAMINATION, EUTHANASIA AND AUTOPSY OF AN ELEPHANT BULL

Date: 26th August 2015

Species:Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Wildlife works, Rukinga

History

An elephant bull was reported to have been hit by a ranch vehicle on the night of 25th and could hardly walk; it was easily spotted when the vet unit rushed to the area the next morning.

Immobilization and examination

The elephant was immobilised using 18mg Etorphine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart using a Dan injectdart rifle from a vehicle. The elephant was darted and did not move due to the pain in the hind leg. It was immobilized after 10 minutes and went down lying on his chest before being pushed to its side by hand. Examination revealed a complete fracture of the right hind limb near the tarsal joint. For obvious reasons this is a poor prognosis so the elephant was euthanized to save him from more suffering.

Autopsy

The autopsy confirmed the diagnosis. The tusks were removed and handed over to security personnel for safe custody.

CASE#12 AUTOPSY OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 27th August 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Amaka ranch, Taita ranches Tsavo

History

Reports of gun shots were received by KWS security team after which they combed the area by air and found an elephant carcass with tusks missing. They requested for veterinary autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Autopsy

Carcass condition was good, autolysis was moderate, tusks were missing with sharp object marks on the chopped off front face. Abdominal cavity was normal while the chest cavity had penetrating wound with haemorrhage of the chest cavity.

Dead elephant with gun shot wound  Elephant with tusks missing

Diagnosis: - Death was caused by haemorrhage from gunshot wound to the chest.

CASE#13 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 31st August 2015

Species: Elephant

Age: Calf

Location: Mzima Pipeline, Tsavo East

This calf was successfully rescued from the pipeline waterhole and reunited with its family.

Trying to reassure the rescued calf with milk  Successfully reunited with mother and family

Other Activities

  • The vet attended a court session in Mariakani to give an expert testimony on poachers arrested with 2 elephant tusks.

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 immense support to the unit.