The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - March 2016

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH 2016

Reported By Jeremiah Poghon

Introduction

Cases handled by the unit in the Tsavo ecosystem during the month under review were varied with different species involved and ailments. The cases included treatment of an injured elephant calf near Maungu, Tsavo east, rescue and treatment of another calf near Rhino area, Tsavo east, treatment of an injured elephant cow and a bull, in Irima and Dakota areas respectively, all with arrow wounds. A lioness was treated for paw injury and another examined for poisoning together with other predators.

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT CALF WITH A BULLET WOUND

Date:  8th March 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Female

Age: Calf

Location: Maungu, Tsavo east National park

History

An injured calf was spotted by an aerial patrol undertaken by DSWT aircraft. She was with her mother, limping badly and trailing back. Due to sun setting in, the operation was scheduled for the next day. Despite intensive aerial patrols she was not spotted. She was finally found on 8th March having separated from the mother.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The calf was immobilized with 4 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart from a vehicle.  The vehicle was then used to keep the elephant in grassland until she went down after 5 minutes.

The elephant is darted for treatment  The injured leg requires intervention

There was swelling and penetrating wound that went through the right knee joint with pus oozing from the wound most likely caused by a bullet. The elephant could hardly place weight on the leg. The necrotic tissues were cut off and the pus washed out by lavaging with normal saline mixed with antiseptics.

The vet at work  The vet examines the other injuries

Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were administered before wetted green clay was applied to cover the wound.

The wound is opened, the dead tissue removed and pus drained  Green clay is used to pack the wound after treatment

An intravenous administration of 20 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 40 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.     

Reversal

Drug reversal was done by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The calf woke up and moved away slowly.

Prognosis

The calf was later rescued due to deteriorating condition and taken to Voi stockade but sadly succumbed a week later.

CASE#2 EXAMINATION OF A GIRAFFE CARCASS

Date:  8th March 2016

Species: Giraffe (Maasai)

Sex: Unknown

Age: Adult

Location: Maungu, Tsavo east National park

Examination

After the treatment of the injured calf the team received a report of a giraffe carcass spotted nearby by a pilot. The team went to confirm the cause of death on the fresh Giraffe carcass. Autopsy revealed killing and extraction of the flesh while the skin, skeletal tissue and intestinal contents were left.

A giraffe killed for bushmeat

Cause of death – Game meat poaching.

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

Date:  9th March 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Calf

Location: Sobo, Tsavo east National park

History

The calf was spotted by KWS rangers alone lying in a dry river bed without the family. Close examination revealed the calf was dehydrated, had an injury to the leg and was in shock. He was loaded into the vet vehicle and transported to Voi stockade.

The elephant was found recumbent in a dry river bed  He was cooled down during treatment

Immobilization, examination and treatment

There was a penetrating injury, most likely caused by a bullet that went through the left knee which was swollen and had pus oozing from the wound. Necrotic tissues were cut off; pus washed out by lavaging with normal saline mixed with antiseptics. Tincture of iodine was applied and Oxytetracycline spray administered. Final cover of wetted green clay applied.

The vet Unit is called into assist  The elephant is taken to the stockade

The wound requiring treatment  The vet attending to the wound

An intravenous administration of 40 cc 50% Dextrose was given through the ear vein and he regained his energy almost immediately. He was also given 20 cc of Dexamethasone and 40 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

Prognosis

The calf was taken to the Voi stockade and survived the operation but collapsed two days later and died.

 CASE#4 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT WITH AN ARROW WOUND

Date: 10th March 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Irima, Tsavo east National Park

History

A report was made regarding a limping elephant cow by tourists visiting the area. Two attempts to locate her were not successful but she was finally spotted near the oil pipeline with an aid of DSWT airplane.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized with Etorphine Hcl and 16 mgs Xylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart from a vehicle using a Dan-inject dart rifle. The Elephant was immobilized in 7 minutes and went down lying on lateral recumbency. A deep penetrating arrow wound was observed on the lateral aspect of the right knee joint.

This elephant has an injured and swollen leg  The vet drains the pus and removed dead tissue

The pus was drained and the necrotic tissues cut off. The wound was then cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine was sprayed on the wound and wetted green clay applied. Dexamethasone Hcl and long acting Amoxicillin were administered intravenously and intramuscularly respectively.

The vet drains the pus and removed dead tissue  Green Clay is applied

Reversal

Anesthetic reversal was done by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl intravenously through the ear vein at three times the Etorphine dose.

Prognosis

The elephant easily woke up and walked away.

CASE#5 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date:  11th March 2016

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Calf

Location: Along Voi river, Tsavo east.

History

Report was received from tourists in the park of a stranded elephant calf along Voi river near Voi airstrip, Tsavo east National Park. The mother was nowhere to be seen. He was monitored and neither the mother nor another family were seen close to it.

The vet team use the vehicle to push him towards the orphans  A young elephant is found alone near Voi Stockades

The orphans at Voi stockade were driven towards him and he joined them, foraged together and followed the orphans in the evening to the stockade enclosures.

The milk dependent elephant is pushed towards the orphan herds  The abandoned elephant joins with the orphan herd

Prognosis

He was doing well but then collapsed suddenly and died.

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT BULL

Date: 11th March 2016

Species: Elephant

Sex:  Male

Age: Bull

Place: Dakota, Tsavo East National Park.

History

This elephant bull was spotted near a watering point in Dakota area by KWS rangers from the Dakota platoon with wounds to the flank with pus oozing from them. They notified the vet team who immediately rushed to the area to find the injured bull near the water hole.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was immobilized with 18 mgs of Etorphine in a dan-inject dart. A vehicle was used to trail the bull who had moved away after seeing the vet vehicles. He was darted in the rump and kept in grassland by the vehicle until he went down after 11 minutes.

The elephant had two arrow wounds, one on each side of the body near the rump.

The big elephant had two arrow wounds  The vet starts on the first wound

The necrotic tissues and pus were removed and the wound cleaned using water mixed with hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were administered before the wound was covered with wetted green clay. Two landcruiser’s were used to roll the elephant over to access the other side of the flank. The above treatment process was repeated.

A lot of pus is drained from the arrow wound  Dead tissue and pus is removed from the wound

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 200 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.     

Reversal

Drug reversal was done by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. The bull woke up and moved away slowly.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE#7 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED LIONESS

Date:  18th March 2016

Species: Lioness

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Place:   Sentrim, Tsavo East National Park.

History

A report of a lame lioness was made by KWS inspection team after noticing a lion pride being in one area for long. On close examination the pride female was seen limping on the left front leg.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

A dan-inject dart was prepared using 300 mgs of Ketamine and 4 mgs of Meditomidine and the lioness approached slowly by vehicle and darted on ramp. She moved away slowly and lay down under a tree shade. Her fully grown cubs were chased away using a car. After immobilization she was carried using a stretcher to a nearby shade.

The lioness is treated in the shade  This fully grown lioness requires treatment

Examination revealed a puncture wound to the left front paw of an unknown cause. The wound was cleaned with antiseptics and splashed with iodine. After treatment, 15 cc of long acting antibiotics and 10 cc of Dexamethsone were administered intramuscularly.

Examination revealed a puncture wound to the left front paw of an unknown cause  The vet attends to the wound on the paw

Reversal

The alpha 2 agonist was reversed using Atipemazole Hcl after one a half hours and guarded until she had fully recovered and let to join her pride.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

CASE#8 PREDATOR POISONING IN JIPE, TSAVO WEST

Date: 22nd March 2016

Sex: Various species of both sexes

Age: Adults

Place: Jipe, Tsavo West National Park.

Introduction and cause of poisoning

A report of predator poisoning was received by the vet unit with one lion, several vultures, hawks and a jackal being among the casualties. A cow carcass thought to have been used in the poisoning incident lay nearby. There was rapid decomposition due to high temperatures and no meaningful autopsy could be done on the jackal and lioness carcass. The vultures and eagle remains were collected and frozen for preservation and submission to the laboratory. The bovine carcass remains were destroyed by burning. The cause of poisoning is thought to be revenge for the cow killed by the lion after straying in to the park.

The cow carcass used to poison a lion  The intended victim, a poisoned lion

A poisoned Vulture  A poisoned eagle

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.