The Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - June 2016

 Return to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Website

FIELD VETERINARYREPORT FOR SOUTHERN CONSERVATION AREA FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE 2016

Reported by: Dr. Michael Njoroge

INTRODUCTION

SCA-MVU during this month was faced with a number of cases within Amboseli, Chyulu, Shimba and Tsavo ecosystems. There has been a gradual increase in the number of cases probably due to the dry-weather season.

Case#1 Treatment of Injured Elephant at Ol Donyo Wuas-Chyulu

Date: 1st June 2016

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 35-40 years

Location: Near Ol Donyo Wuas Lodge, Chyulu Hills

History

The elephant was spotted by Big Life personnel near Oldonyo Wuas Lodge in the Chyulu Hills. The vet was airlifted from Shimba Hills where the team was attending to another case.

Immobilization

The elephant was immobilized using 17 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart topped up using water for the injection. Darting was done using the Dan Inject system and from a DSWT helicopter. The elephant went down in a sitting position after 5 minutes. He was the turned over to access the wound. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrance. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperature down.  The ears were used as a blindfold.

An elephant with a wound  The wound is probed and cleaned

 Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had a spear wound entering the skin around the trunk area. The wound had been caused by a spear which had fallen off with time. The wound was septic and had pus. The wound was thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A and 50 ml flunixine meglumine at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 40 minutes.

Iodine is used to disinfect the wound  Grey clay is applied

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. It took about 8 minutes to be fully awake from anaesthesia.

The elephant recovers from the anaesthetic

Case#2 Removal of a Snare from African Elephant

This report describes a clinical case intervention of one female elephant at Shimba Hills National Reserve. The elephant was suffering from a wire snare which was deeply embedded into the soft tissues of a swollen leg resulting in infection and a lot of pus.  The snare had been there for quite some time and was life threatening.

Date: 1st June 2016

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Approx. 17 years

Location: Shimba Hills National Park

GPS coordinate: 37m 0548864 Utm 9535188

History

A solitary elephant with a wire snare was sighted on 28th May 2016 by KWS Shimba Hills National Reserve rangers on patrol. The vet at Amboseli National Park was notified and travelled to Kwale by road on 29th May but arrived late and it was decided he would begin the next day. The veterinary team together with a team of rangers from Shimba Hills embarked on a thorough search for the elephant and finally managed to dart the elephant at 6.20 p.m on 1st June 2016 after 4 days of thorough searching.

Immobilization

Etorphine Hcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 18mg, in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out from a vehicle using a Dan inject dart rifle (Dan-inject APS, Sellerup Skovvej, Denmark) the elephant was darted and immobilized after 5 minutes.

Examination and Treatment

The elephant was promptly de-snared. The wound was about 10cm wide by 5cm depth and had pus due to the strangulating wire snare which was deeply embedded into the soft tissue. The right fore-limb was heavily swollen. The wound was cleaned with copious amounts of water to remove mud and dirt. The wound was then thoroughly cauterized with dilute hydrogen peroxide, then again was liberally cleaned with Tincture of iodine and the sinuses formed by the embedded wire were thoroughly lavaged with Tincture of iodine . Oxytetracycline spray and cream (Norbrook Laboratories Limited, United Kingdom) was applied. The wound was covered with green clay to promote faster healing. The elephant was doused with plenty of water and eyes were covered with the pinna of the ear.

A snare wound is treated

The elephant bull was injected with the following:

Amoxicillin Trihydrate BP 15,000mg (Betamox® LA  Norbrook Laboratories Ireland) by intramuscular route

Flunixin meglumine 2500mg (Norbrook Laboratories (GB) Limited, United Kingdom) i.m

Reversal

Using 60mg of diprenorphine Hcl (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Limited) given IV at the ear vein, the elephant was reversed from anesthesia; (a ¼ of the dose was given i.m). Recovery from anesthesia was smooth and he managed to ambulate well.

Prognosis

Good

Case #3 Clinical Intervention of an Injured Elephant

Date: 4th June 2016

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 30-35 years

Location: Sarova (Tsavo West National Park)

History

The Taita Ranch rangers a sick elephant within the ranch. The veterinary team attended to the case.

Immobilization

Etorphine Hcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 17mg topped up with water for injection in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out using the Dan Inject system from a vehicle. The elephant appropriately went down to a lateral recumbence after 7 minutes. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperature down.  The ears were used as a blindfold.

Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had serious sceptic wounds on the hindquarters. The entire external and internal reproductive organs had been completely damaged. The wounds were septic and had necrotic tissue. The wound is likely to have been caused by cancerous wounds causing extensive tissue and organ damage. The tentative diagnosis was melanoma.

The genital area is completely deteriorated   The wounds were septic and had necrotic tissue

A decision was made to euthanize the elephant as the prognosis was poor. The KWS Bura community rangers removed the tusks and handed them over to the authorities concerned.

Case #4 Treatment of Injured Bull Elephant at Ithumba

Date: 8th June 2016

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 30-35 yrs

History

The elephant was spotted while searching for a reported injured elephant at the Ithumba stockade by the DSWT pilot. Plans were made to airlift the vet from Amboseli to Ithumba immediately. The wound was serious and necessitated darting and treatment. The elephant was darted from a vehicle.

Immobilization, Examination and Treatment

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart toped up using water for injection. Darting was done using the Dan Inject system and was done from a vehicle. The elephant went down on dog sitting position after 8 minutes. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperatures low.  The ears were used as blindfold.

On physical examination the elephant had an approximately 20 cm diameter wound (approx. 1 month old) on the left flank region. The wound was septic and had necrotic tissue. The wound had been caused by an arrow head which had fallen off with time and caused massive tissue damage.

The wound is probed for foreign objects  Hydrogen Peroxide is used to clean the wound

The wound was thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A and 50 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 30 minutes.

The wound to the side is deep  Antiseptic spray was applied to the wound

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. It took about 5 minutes to be fully awake from anaesthesia.

Case #5Treatment of an Injured Elephant Bull

Date: 14th June 2016

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 15-20 yrs

Location: Namelok - Amboseli ecosystem

History

The Big Life Foundation rangers reported a male elephant with a suspected a spear injury on the left flank. A thorough search ensued and the elephant was finally spotted in thick bush, alone. At the best convenience darting was done and attempts made to drive him to some open ground. Unfortunately, the elephant still went down to a lateral recumbence in the bush.

Immobilization

Etorphine Hcl (0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 16mg topped up with water for injection in a 3 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Darting was carried out using the Dan Inject system from a vehicle. The elephant first went down to lateral recumbence after 8 minutes. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperatures down and the ears were used as a blindfold.

The vet assesses the wound  The vet assesses the wound

Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had a spear wound approximately one week old. The wound was septic and had necrotic tissue. The wound was thoroughly cleaned using clean water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A, 1200 mg and 50 ml Dexamethasone at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 20 minutes.

Water is used to keep the elephant cool  The elephant gets up following treatment

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (48mgs) into the ear vein was used.  It took 4 minutes for him to get up and walk away from the site.

Prognosis

Good

Case #6 Treating a Male Zebra

Date: 16th June 2016

Species: Zebra               

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

History

An injured male zebra was spotted by the veterinary team while on routine patrol. The veterinary team made the decision to immediately immobilize and examine the zebra.

Immobilization

The zebra was immobilized using 7 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride and 60 mg azaperone in a 3cc dart toped up using water for injection. Darting was done from a vehicle using Dan-inject system. Full immobilization took place after 5 minutes, and he fell on a lateral recumbence. The zebra was blind folded and opticlox applied to the eyes to avoid damage.

A zebra is seen with a knee injury  The knee is extremely swollen

Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the zebra had a swelling, a septic injury distal to the left hock joint which could have been caused by an attack from a predator. The wounds were thoroughly cleaned using clean water, hydrogen peroxide and normal saline for rinsing. The dead tissue was removed and lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was applied to the wounds to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The zebra was then injected with 90 ml Betamox L.A and 50 ml flunixine meg lumine at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 25 min.

The wound is cleaned   The zebra following treatment

Reversal

Reversal of immobilization was done using 18 mg diprenorphine HCL and it took about 4 minutes for complete reversal.

Prognosis

The prognosis is good.

Pictorial presentation

Case #7 Treatment of a Bull Elephant

Date: 17th June 2016

Sex: Male

Species: African Elephant

Age: 40-45 yrs

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

The elephant was spotted at Kimana sanctuary by Sidai Oleng rangers. The elephant was darted for examination from a vehicle after a thorough search with the help of a Big Life foundation light aircraft, rangers and KWS rangers

Immobilization

The elephant was immobilized using 18 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart toped up using water for injection. Darting was done using the Dan Inject system and was done from a vehicle. The elephant went down in a sitting position after 7 minutes. He was the flipped over to access the wound. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The temperature was high hence plenty of water was doused on the elephant to keep the body temperature down.  The ears were used as a blindfold.

Water is used to keep him cool

Examination and Treatment

On physical examination the elephant had a spear wound going through the pinnae. The wound had been caused by a spear which had fallen off with time but had caused tissue damage. The wound was thoroughly cleaned using water and Hydrogen Peroxide. It was then lavaged using tincture of Iodine. Topical antibiotic cream and green clay was then applied into the wound to facilitate healing and avoid infection. The elephant was then injected with 100 ml Betamox L.A and 50 ml flunixine meglumine at different sites intramuscularly. The entire operation lasted about 30 minutes.

The team at work  The elephant following treatment

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. It took about 5 minutes for him to fully awaken from the anaesthesia.

Case #8 Replacement of A GPRS Collar on an Elephant Cow

Date: 17th June 2016

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Female

Age: 35-40 yrs

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

The adult female elephant, who is a matriarch, was collared to monitor its movements and that of its group in the year 2013. The collar failed transmission after 2 years and since then the elephant has been looked for until she was spotted in the park on the 15th June by the Amboseli KWS research personnel. Owing to her elusive behaviour, a decision was made to immobilize and place a new collar on the elephant. In liaison with the KWS research team, a thorough search was ensued on the 17th June, and darting was successfully completed at 4.15 p.m. The darting was relatively easy from the vehicle after driving the elephant to an open ground away from the swampy area.

Immobilization

The elephant was immobilized using 17 mgs Etorphine Hydrochloride in a 3cc dart topped up using water for injection. Darting was done using Dan-inject system from the vehicle. Full immobilization took place after 7 minutes and she fell on lateral recumbence. The trunk was maintained patent using a piece of stick placed across the nostril entrances. The ears were used as blindfold.  Plenty of water was doused on the ears (pinnae) and the entire body to help cool the elephant during the operation.

The elephant is darted for treatment  Collaring is important to understand movements

Examination and Treatment

A physical examination was carried out and she was found to be in good health. The old collar was removed and replaced with a new one. The elephant was then administered with 100ml Oxytetracycline Hcl to cover for any opportunistic infections after the exercise.

The collar is fitted  The elephant after collaring

Reversal of immobilization

Diprenorphine Hydrochloride (54mgs) into the ear vein was used. The elephant was up in 6 minutes and walked away.

Prognosis

Prognosis is good

Pictorial presentation

The Southern Conservation Area- Mobile Veterinary Unit is grateful to all individuals who played a role in assisting us towards achieving our goal. Many thanks to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, The Samuel J and Ethel Lefrak charitable trust and The Kenya Wildlife Service for their continued support to this unit which aims at immediate response for clinical intervention, wildlife rescues and alleviating wildlife suffering.