The Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - November 2015

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EASTERN CONSERVATION AREA VETERINARY UNIT MONTHLY REPORT NOVEMBER 2015

Report by: Bernard Rono

Introduction

This report describes activities of the Meru veterinary unit in November 2015. Rains continued in most parts of northern Kenya, therefore there was plenty of vegetation and water for wildlife.

Meru veterinary unit is grateful to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for providing financial and logistical support for treatment of injured wildlife in northern Kenya.

CASE #1: TREATMENT OF A SPEARED ELEPHANT

Date: 4th November 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult (25 years)

Location: Meru National park

History

Tour guides from Elsas Kopje lodge reported that this elephant had a swelling on its flank which was oozing pus.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved using 16mg M99 in a single 3cc Dan-inject dart from a vehicle with the dart placed at the gluteal muscles. The elephant went down in 8 minutes and fell on left lateral recumbency.

An elephant with a spear wound  The elephant is darted for treatment

Examination showed a deep stab wound dorsal to the right abdominal flank caused by a spear.

The wound was caused by a spear

This open abscess discharged copious pus but on probing with a forceps the wound did not seem to penetrate into the abdominal cavity. The wound was debrided using Hydrogen Peroxide to remove dead tissue and Iodine was applied as a topical antiseptic. Parenteral antibiotic and corticosteroid was also administered.

Probing for foreign bodies  The wound is cleaned with hydrogen peroxide

Reversal

To reverse the anesthesia 60mg Diprenophine Hcl was administered through the superficial ear vein.

Prognosis

This elephant is expected to make a complete recovery.

The elephant gets up after treatment

 

CASE #2: RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT STUCK IN MUD

Date: 8th November 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult (15 years)

Location: Njiru, Lower Imenti

History

The Meru veterinary unit was informed by KWS rangers on patrol of an elephant which was recumbent at a farm in Njiru village at the edge of Lower Imenti forest. This animal was among crop raiding elephants that had encroached on the farm the previous night and was found by the farmer in the morning.

When the team arrived at the scene they found the animal had fallen into a mud pool and was exhausted after unsuccessful attempts to get up. No other significant injuries were found on examination.

This elephant is stuck in the mud  A crowd arrives to assist

Rescue

Firstly the elephant was extracted from the mud pool using ropes and a vehicle. Its tusks were then roped and pulled to support it into standing position.

A vehicle is used  Straps are placed around the elephant

The elephant then charged the vehicle and ran off into the nearby forest.

Free at last  The elephant is helped to his feet

 

CASE #3: TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH A BULLET WOUND

Date: 9th November 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Sub – Adult (12 years)

Location: Ol Maiso ranch, Laikipia

History

A sub-adult elephant in Ol Maiso ranch was reported to have shown severe lameness and emaciation. Researchers from Space for Giants (SfG) requested for an assessment and treatment of this animal.

Immobilisation, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved using 10mg M9 in a single 1.5cc Dan-inject dart from foot with the dart placed into the dorsal lumbar muscles. The elephant went down in 3 minutes with the elephant lying on right lateral recumbency.

The elephant was immobilized

Examination showed a swelling to the distal part of the right forelimb. At the carpal joint an infected penetrating wound caused by a bullet was observed. Manipulation of the joint did not reveal joint instability.

The wound was observed on the right forelimb

The wound was debrided with Hydrogen Peroxide and Povidone Iodine. Betamox trihydrate, an antibiotic, was also injected intramuscularly to prevent spread of infection.

Preparing to treat the wound  Wound being treated with Hydrogen Peroxide and Povidone Iodine

Reversal

To reverse the anesthesia 36mg Diprenophine Hcl was administered through the superficial ear vein.

Prognosis

Prognosis for recovery is guarded due to involvement of the carpal joint.

CASE #4: TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 11th November 2015

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: 30 years

Location: Samburu national reserve

History

This female adult elephant was reported to have shown emaciation, off feed and a swelling on the lower abdomen. Field researchers from Save the Elephants (STE) requested for an examination and treatment of this elephant.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Immobilization was achieved using 16mg M99 in a single 3.0 cc Dan-inject dart from a vehicle with the dart placed into the gluteal muscles. The elephant went down in 8 minutes lying on right lateral recumbency.

Prior to darting this animal showed signs of colic: restlessness and throwing dust on its abdomen. Its feces were also covered in mucus. Examination showed bilateral swelling on the ventral abdomen along the fatty band. On aspiration no discharge was found. This swelling was attributed to a loss of body condition.

Observation of the cow elephant with swelling  Swelling on the abdomen

Tentative diagnosis: Intestinal impaction

A conservative treatment approach was used. Flunixin Meglumine 5000mg was injected intramuscularly and Betamox trihydrate 30g intramuscular.

Preparing for treatment

Reversal

To reverse the anesthesia 48mg Diprenophine Hcl was administered through the superficial ear vein.

Prognosis

Prognosis for recovery is guarded; however, STE scouts were advised to monitor the elephant’s recovery progress.

Recovery from anesthesia

A follow up visit on 27th November showed that this animal was making slow progressive recovery. She had rejoined her herd.

CASE #5: INJURED GIRAFFE IN MERU NATIONAL PARK

Date: 15/11/2015

Species: Reticulated giraffe

Sex: Male

Age: 1 year

Location: Meru National Park (MNP)

History

Rangers on patrol reported that this giraffe showed severe swelling and lameness on its left forelimb.

Immobilization and management

The vet team were called and restrained this animal manually using ropes and hand injected a sedative to calm this animal for examination.

Examination showed hypermotility of the left elbow joint and crepitus was felt on manipulation. Fracture of the humerus was diagnosed.

Examining the fracture

For management euthanasia by exsanguination was recommended.

Euthanising the Giraffe

CASE #6: POSTMORTEM EXAMINATION OF A RHINO CARCASS

Date: 23rd November 2015

Species: Black rhino

Sex: Male

Age: ≤ 2 years

Location: Ol Pejeta conservancy (OPC)

History

A black rhino carcass was found by rangers on patrol in OPC on 23rd November. A post mortem examination was carried to determine the cause of death.

General Examination

The carcass was in good body condition with both horns were intact. Parts of its lower lips and perineum had been eaten. Skin lacerations on the lower abdomen and hind limbs were observed.

Examining the dead black rhino

Specific findings:

A wound 7 centimeters in length caudal to the right scapula penetrating into the thoracic cavity. There were comminuted fractures of the 4th to the 6th rib. On opening the carcass internal organs were extensively autolysed and could not be examined.

Deep wound in the thoracic cavity

Cause of death: Thoracic trauma. Injury consistent with fight by another rhino.  

CASE #7: TREATMENT OF AN INJURED WHITE RHINO

Date: 24th November 2015

Species: White rhino

Sex: Female

Age: Adult (39 years)

Location: Lewa wildlife conservancy (LWC)

History

This geriatric female white rhino had been treated for fight wounds three weeks earlier. It was showing severe emaciation, lameness, swelling and abscesses on its right forelimb. LWC requested for a follow up evaluation of this rhino.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The rhino was immoblisaed using a combination of 4.5mg M99 and 60mg Azaperone in a 1.5cc Dan-Inject dart from foot. The rhino was in open ground and because of severe pain of thefoot this rhino did not move after darting and was down after 3 minutes.

Immobilizing the rhino

Patient monitoring during anesthesia was achieved by counting respiration rate and observation of mucous membranes for capillary refill. This rhino was generally stable under anesthesia with an average of 4 breaths per minute while the mucous membranes were pink and moist.

There were open abscesses on the lateral and medial aspect of the right carpal joint.

Examining the wound

Crepitus was felt on manipulation of the carpal joint and an unstable joint due to tear of joint ligaments. Abscesses were lanced, application of iodine revealed communicating abscesses.

Application of iodine  Administration of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs

Reversal

To reverse anesthesia effect, 150mgs Naltrexone Hcl was injected intravenously. After a brief struggle this rhino was up on its feet six minutes later

Prognosis

Considering the age of this animal and extent of injuries prognosis for this case was guarded. However, treatment was attempted by administration of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Unfortunately she died 48 hours from severe infection. On post mortem fracture of the lateral carpal bone and torn joint ligaments were found. Cause of death was suspected to be as a result of dehydration.