The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - December 2015

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR MASAI MARA –DECEMBER 2015.

By Dr. Campaign K.Limo

Introduction.

Precipitation continued over the month with most seasonal rivers and luggas getting flooded.Mobiity was highly hampered by this though few cases were reported. However there was a nasty incident which involved suspected poisoning of Marsh pride of lions with a few of them including vultures succumbing. Samples collected are still being analysed to ascertain the type of chemical used. As at now, the situation has stabilized with no new cases reported. The following are cases handled during the month;

CASE#1 SUSPECTED POISONING OF THE MARSH PRIDE LIONS

Date:6th December 2015

Species: African lions

Location: Musiara area

History

These members of Marsh pride occupying Musiara/ Bilashaka area in Masai Mara National Reserve were seen during the morning behaving strangely by a BBC crew filming them. They informed Masai Mara NationalReserve Management and Governor’s camp management who in turn sought the Veterinary Units help.

Examination and management

On arrival we found eight lions which form part of the larger Marsh pride. The composition of this pride seen was as follows; 1 adult male, 2 adult females, 3 sub adult cubs and 2 young cubs. This splinter group normally has eleven members meaning three members were missing. One of these eight lions, Allan, an approximately two year old male cub, was severely affected with signs of profuse diarrhoea, hyper salivation, posterior ataxia and inco-ordination, anxiety, pupillary dilation and musclespasms. These signs were considered consistent with poisoning.

Alan with very severe symptoms  Alan suffering from his symptoms

He was immediately treated with6mgs Dexamethasone sodium and 2mgs Atropine sulphate all delivered remotely by dart.

Alan's treatment being delivered remotely by dart

As for the rest of the pride, they presented with occasional stumbling while walking but in much better condition thanAllan. They were also very shy and took refuge in a high rocky hill when pursued.Allan showed great improvement two hours after treatment. The rest were monitored until evening and by then they had all become sound. A team was tasked to monitor them throughout as reviews were on going until they were out of danger.

The Marsh Lion Pride  The Marsh Lion pride

Meanwhile a search for the remaining three members, Bibi the oldest member of Marsh pride, Sienna an eleven year old female and a two year old male called Red continued. None of them were spotted by close of the day.

On the morning of 7th December 2015, a visit to the pride for review was done. A report from the ground that morning had indicated that Bibi had been seen lying prostrate with foam coming from the mouth and suffering fromfits. She died within ten minutes after discovery.

Bibi's body

Before carrying out post mortem, the status and soundness of the other pride members wasconfirmed and thorough search for the remainder of the missing lions was conducted. Red had resurfaced in good health and joined the other members of the pride leaving only Sienna unaccounted for. However during the search, remains of a carcass were found within a hundred meters of Bibi with only a scapula and a small piece of skin recovered. Most of it had been scavenged by hyenas. From the appearance the remains looked to belong to a carnivore and specifically a lion. Until now Sienna has not been accounted for, it is assumed these were her remains.

Sienna's remains  More of Sienna's remains

Thorough post mortem was carried out on Bibi with the following findings,

  • She was on her left lateral recumbency and heavily bloated.
  • She appeared to have been in good body condition before death.
  • Tail end missing which was a long time healed injury.
  • She had a broken lower left canine and several lower incisors missing associated with aging.
  • There was a pinkish powder substance stained on her left shoulder.

On opening the carcass the following observation was made;

  1. The mucus membranes were cyanotic.
  2. The liver, kidneys and lungs were heavily congested. Additionally there was some froth in the lungs
  3. She had recently fed and the was stomach full
  4. Pinkish substance was found in the stomach mixed with ingested food
  5. The small and large intestines were severely eroded with ecchmotic haemorrhages evident

Samples from the stomach contents, kidney and liver tissues have been submitted to Government chemist for analysis.

On this date, 5 vulture carcases were also recovered within the vicinity and disposed of by burning togetherwith Bibi’s remains.The residues were then buried deep to avoid possible contamination.

Allan was on his way to recovery and had joined the other members of the pride. He was in better shape than the previous day.

On the morning of 9th December, 2015 Allan was reported to have been severely injured by a herd of buffaloes and had taken refuge under a visitor’s vehicle. On rushing to the scene, Allan was in deep pain with discernible injuries. Any attempt to agitate him to come from under the vehicle was fruitless, he retreated deeper. He appeared anxious.

He was anaesthetized with a combination of 1.8mgs Medetomidine and 100mgs Ketamine way below the normal dose for his age as he was already compromised. He was fully anaesthetized after 4minutes. The vehicle was carefully moved to expose him for examination.

On closerexamination, Allan had been severely injured with multiple deep wounds. The wounds were seen on, inner left front limb, inner right hind limb, inner left hind limb, one on the belly and puncture wounds on both left and right thorax. A puncture wound could also be palpated on the sternum.Thethoracic wounds were severe accessing the pleural cavity and lungs with resultant pneumothorax and subcutaneous emphysema during breathing around this region. Air was escaping from the pleural cavity and accumulating beneath the skin.

Auscultationrevealed damaged and collapsed lungs. The lion was evidently struggling to breath. There was also blood clots in the mouth and blood vessels had collapsed.

Owing to the unfavourable prognosis and considering the welfare of Allan euthanasia was recommended to prevent further suffering. He was euthanized by administration of 20% Pentobarbitone Sodium euthanizing agent rapidly intracardially.

Alan's body  Performing a post mortem on Alan

An immediate post mortem carried out on him revealed the following;

  • Liver and kidneys were congested
  • Heart was flaccid and devoid of blood. Suggesting extravasculation of blood. Severe bleeding
  • Both left and right lower lung lobes were haemorrhagic with puncture wounds.
  • The puncture wounds to the thoracic area including the sternum had accessed the pleura
  • There was extensive bleeding on his ventral side of the neck with large volume of blood accumulating. A large blood vessel around this region had ruptured
  • Stomach had some food eaten 3-4 days ago. Skin patches and hair balls were found in the stomach
  • Organized faecal balls were found in the lower gastrointestinal tract

Conclusion

  1. Post mortem picture of Bibi and the strange substance found in her gastrointestinal system suggest she died of possible poisoning. The results of the substance being tested are awaited.
  2. Allan died from severe injuries from buffalo attack. However he was rendered vulnerable by his status as he was recuperating and could not defend himself or run away
  3. More vulture carcasses have been retrieved and numbers as of now stand at eleven
  4. The above scenario indicates there was a common source of this problem with ingested lethal poison being highly suspected

 

CASE#2 SNARED ZEBRA

Date:10th December 2015

Species: Common zebra

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Naboisho conservancy

History

This female zebra was seen by the Naboisho conservancy rangers with a snare tight round herneck. She was with other zebras and arreared in some discomfort but otherwise her condition was good.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was immobilized chemically by use of a combination of 60mgs Azaperone and 6mgs Etorphine hydrochloride delivered in 1.5 dan-inject dart from a vehicle. It took seven minutes for the drugs to take maximum effect with the zebra assuming sternal recumbency. Examination revealed a tight cable wire snare round her neck with resultant damage to muscle tissues.

Darting the Zebra for treatment  Safely immobilizing the Zebra

The wire was cut loose and the resultant wound cleaned with the help of Hydrogen peroxide, copious amount of water and disinfected with tincture of Iodine. TopicalOxytetracycline wound spray was applied. Additional treatments include parenteral administration of 3000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotics and 20mgs Dexamethasone Sodium anti-inflammatory.

The injury caused by the snare  Removing the snare

Reversal

Reversal of anaesthetic was achieved by administration of 24mgs Diprenorphine hydrochloride intravenously through the jugular vein.

Recovering from the anesthetic

Prognosis

Good.

Conclusion

Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit is grateful to all stakeholders who have assisted the team to achieve what they have done during the year. Many thanks to Minara foundation through DSWT for their continuous facilitation to the unit. Thanks to KWS management for their technical assistance and guidance. Without you all it could not have been possible