The Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - December 2016

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR SOUTHERN CONSERVATION AREA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER; 2016

Reported by Ndambiri Ephantus

Introduction

The hills, slopes and plains of the Amboseli ecosystem are splendid and blossoming with abundant browse and forage after the recent rains. The gorge beds and usually temporary streams are flowing with quenching waters and all these ensure that there is life within the entire ecosystem. Animals have been seen within the community conservancies as they seek solace from the cold wet plains of the National Park.

The Amboseli Vet Unit has been busy as it stands in for Tsavo Vet Unit which is on annual leave.

The month under review has witnessed trauma cases inflicted by humans on the wild animals especially elephant in attempted poaching or human wildlife conflict issues. Also severe and prolonged dry spell effects are being felt on the younger animals.

 Following are veterinary activities attended to during the month;

CASE # 1; DESNARING OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 4th Dec 2016

Species: Elephant          

Sex: Male

Age: Sub Adult

Location: Mwaruganje Community Sanctuary; Shimba Hills

History

This elephant was reported in the afternoon of 3/12/2016 by AD Coastal Conservation area as having a wire around its right forelimb resulting in severe lameness and isolation. A desnaring mission was set for the following day.

 Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was in Mwaruganje Elephant Sanctuary under the keen watch of Kwale KWS rangers. The terrain was very challenging because it was near the river gorge. It was darted from foot with 10mgs Etorphine and 500I.U. Hyarulonidase. The aim was to quickly get short down time to avoid the elephant plunging into the nearby gorge. He walked away limping and groaning in pain and was on sternal recumbence in four minutes. It was placed on right lateral recumbence manually and left ear used as blind fold.

  The elephant is darted for treatment

The right fore limb at the metacarpal area had an all-round traumatic wound from which a winch snare wire, approximately a meter long, was emerging. The snare was more than a month old and the tissues around the snare and re-epithelialization was almost embedding the wire.

A nasty snare injury  The snare is removed from the leg

It was severed carefully avoiding unnecessary trauma and bleeding using a wire cutter. The resultant wound was cleaned thoroughly and gently, using a sponge, Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine Tincture in order not to disrupt or interfere with scab formation. Green clay was then applied to the generously wound. Systematically it was covered against any opportunistic pathogen using 15,000mgs Amoxicillin, 50mgs Dexamethasone and 50ml Catosal into different muscle sites. The dart wound was infiltrated with one Cloxacillin cream tube to avoid abscess development and another used to keep the eyes moist and covered against any infection.

The resultant wound is cleaned throughly  Antiseptic spray is applied

Reversal

Reversal was achieved by use of a cocktail of 40mgs Naltrexone and 12mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochlorides into the ear vein. It was completely aware of its surroundings in three minutes post reversal.

Prognosis

It has favorable prognosis because of the healing attempt noted, good body condition and presence of abundance browse within the area.

CASE # 2; POSTMORTEM OF AN ELEPHANT

Date of death: 5th Dec 2016

Date of postmortem: 5th Dec 2016

Species: Elephant            

Sex: Female

Age: Juvenile

Location: Tsavo East

History

The report was made on 4/12/2016 by Tsavo East Coy commander that he had spotted a recumbent elephant while on air recce. Due to exigency of duties it was attended to on the following day.

General examination

The young female was found on left lateral recumbence and there were signs of straining as she tried to get up but all in vain. The family members had stayed there for some time because there were heaps of droppings. Its dorsal keratin part of skin especially that which was exposed to sun had been scorched and was sloughing off. This indicated that the candidate had been recumbent for more than three days without water or food. It was alert and even trying to grab someone’s feet during examination. It appeared severely emaciated as depicted by the spine prominence. With the help of ropes it was tossed to the right recumbence and there was no obvious sign of trauma. Efforts to put it on its feet were futile as she proved to be too weak and dehydrated. Decision to put it down was reached thereof in order to prevent suffering and undue stress. It was humanely euthanized using 40000mgs Sodium Pentobarbital into the jugular vein. Postmortem ensured immediately.

An elephant was found recumbent

Postmortem Diagnosis

The eyes were sunken and the skin was very dry on incision. The Offals’ mucosa, as wells as the muscles, were very dry and creamy white. The peritoneal fluid was very clear and there was hardly any pleural fluid. Every organ seemingly appeared normal accept for lack of any fatty tissue. There was no coronary fat and it appeared to have no omentum because all fat had been utilized. The small ivory tusks were retrieved and handed over to Tsavo East armory for safe custody and onward transmission.

 Conclusion

The witnessed lassitude and lethargy was thought to have arisen from severe and prolonged dry spell resulting to insufficient browse. This is usually worse for the weaners and the very old.

CASE # 3; TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 6th Dec 2016

Species: Elephant          

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Oldonyo Wuas; Chyulu Hills

History

This elephant was spotted and reported by Big Life rangers after tracking him for several days. He was dragging one of the limbs as depicted by the foot prints

Immobilization, examination and treatment

It was darted with 17mgs Etorphine and 5000I.U Hyalase in a 3cc dart from a vehicle. The dart was placed in the left humeral area rostrally because he kept facing the vehicle when darting was attempted. He strolled calmly after darting and was trailed until he was fully narcotized after six minutes and assumed right lateral recumbence. His left ear was used as a blind fold.

The elephant had sustained three spear wounds  The elephant had sustained three spear wounds

The elephant had sustained three spear wounds. Two were on the right front limb at the metacarpal area while the other one was on the left rump. All were oozing pus and the worst one was on the medial carpal area. All were probed with a long forceps for any foreign body all in vain. He was flipped over to the other side using a strap and a vehicle for thorough examination.

All wounds were carefully cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine and liberally covered with Green Clay. Both eyes were oiled using Cloxacillin eye ointment. Systemically he was given 30mgs Dexamethasone and 30000mgs Tetracycline intramuscularly at different sites. The dart wound was infiltrated with one Cloxacillin cream tube to avoid abscess development.

The elephant had sustained three spear wounds  The wounds were cleaned and checked for foreign bodies

A review will be made after ten days which will also give a new prognosis status.

Reversal

Anesthesia was reversed using 60mgs Naltrexone Hydrochloride mixed with 12mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride into jugular vein. He was up in one and a half minutes and energetically sauntered away.

The vet reverses the anaesthetic   Wounds are still fleshy and for the initial treatment it has a favorable prognosis

Prognosis

Wounds are still fleshy and for the initial treatment it has a favorable prognosis. Prognosis will be considered again after treatment review which will be done after ten days.

CASE#4 RESCUE OF A GIRAFFE

Date: 7th Dec 2016

Species: Maasai Giraffe          

Sex: Male

Age: Juvenile

Location: Kimana Big Life Kilo 4 Camp

History

A report was made by Big Life Bravo 4 Camp that the perimeter fence around their camp had entangled and trapped a giraffe causing stress as it strained to liberate itself. We responded quickly to avoid undue trauma and anxiety.

The young male was found trapped in a seven wire strands fence with three wires on the left side and the rest on the right. He was struggling to get out but couldn’t. Its anxiety was exacerbated by human presence. It was on its all fours and kept on going forth and back.

A giraffe is entangled in a wire fence  The giraffe is immobilised so it can be freed

Rescue

A decision to quickly liberate it was made by severing the top most wire on the left side. It was cut using a wire cutter and immediately the animal fell to the left and assumed left recumbence. It was held manually as its limbs were pushed away from the fence wire. It was examined for any injury and there was no sign of trauma to the skin surface. It was held quietly and given time to recover a little bit from the stress. He was then able to get up on his own which he did energetically and galloped away.

The giraffe is immobilised so it can be freed  The giraffe is released safely

 Conclusion

The Fence attendant was instructed to hang visible straps which would warn the animal that there was a wire and avoid further entanglement or trapping.

Pictorial Presentation

CASE#5 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 12th Dec 2016

Species: Elephant          

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Maktau Gate; Tsavo West

History

The elephant was spotted and reported by DWST de-snaring team based at Maktau Gate as being unable to ambulate due to a swollen left forelimb. The Amboseli Mobile Vet Unit Vet was picked by the DWST fixed wing for prompt response from Amboseli to the location where the de-snaring team was waiting.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was darted with 17mgs Etorphine topped up with water for injection in a 3cc dart from a vehicle. The dart was placed in the rump and he ambulated with difficulties before stopping and falling on left lateral recumbence after seven minutes. Its right ear was used as a blind fold and the trunk was kept patent by use of a piece of stick stuck.

An elephant wounded by a spear  The elephant is darted for treatment

The left limb was palpated on the medial side for any trauma and pitting on pressure was evident due to edema. Aspirations were tried at three different locations but all yielded clear edema fluid. The elephant was turned with the help of ropes anchored to the vehicle to the right recumbence to expose the left forelimb dorsally for further examination. It was noted to have a penetrating pus oozing wound on the lateral carpal joint. It was pronged for any foreign body using forceps. It was assumed to have been caused by penetrating spear and was about fifteen centimeters deep pointing rostrally but involving the joint capsule. The injury was more than two weeks old.

The wound is probed for foreign bodies  The wound is probed for foreign bodies

The wound was generously cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine. Cloxacillin cream was infiltrated into the canal followed by wet Green Clay. Both eyes were oiled using Cloxacillin eye ointment. Systemically he was covered with 50mgs Dexamethasone and 30000mgs Tetracycline intramuscularly at different sites. The dart wound was infiltrated with one Cloxacillin cream tube to avoid abscess development.

Green clay is packed into the wound  The elephant will be reviewed for treatment

He was dowsed with water liberally all through the exercise on the ears.

A review will be made after ten days which will also give a new prognosis status.

Reversal

Anesthesia was reversed using 80mgs Naltrexone Hydrochloride into jugular vein. He was up in two minutes energetically and meandered away flapping the ears simultaneously.

Prognosis

This is guarded till after treatment review is done.

TREATMENT REVIEW OF SPEARED ELEPHANT

Date: 26/12/2016

Species: Elephant          

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Lumo Conservancy; Taita Taveta

History

This elephant was initially attended to on the 12/12/2016 at Maktau Gate Tsavo West and a review was scheduled after ten days. Luckily he was spotted by visitors to Lumo Conservancy on 25/12/2016 and tracked down on 26/12/2016 by the DWST de-snaring team based at Maktau Gates. A quick response ensured to evaluate the response to initial treatment.

 Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was sedated using 10mgs Etorphine in a 3cc dart topped up with water for injection. It was darted from a vehicle whilst he was calmly resting under a shady tree. The dart was placed in the left hind limb femur muscles. He kept on walking lamely but stopped before he went down on right recumbence. The right ear flap was used as blind fold and the trunk was straightened and kept patent by the help of a piece of stick across the opening. Water was constantly dowsed on its ears to keep it cool from high ambient temperature.

The elephant required a repeat treatment  The elephant is darted for treatment

The left limb was palpated for any possible site to create drainage but all in vain as any aspiration attempt yielded nothing. The wound was covered with creamy tenacious pus and was explored for any foreign material and nothing was noted. At least the canal had shortened to about ten centimeters which had little pus. The edema had subsided markedly only remaining around the joint

The pus was scooped carefully as much as possible and eventually cleaned with a copious amount of Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine. It was easily bleeding showing good healing signs. Two Cloxacillin cream tubes were infiltrated into the canal and topically sprayed with Tetracycline wound spray followed by wet green clay packed onto the surface. It was covered with 50mgs Dexamethasone intravenously and 30000mgs Tetracycline intramuscularly at different sites. The dart wound was infiltrated with one Cloxacillin cream tube to avoid abscessiasion.

There is pus oozing from the wound  The wound is cleaned and treated

Reversal

80mgs Naltrexone Hydrochloride was injected into ear vein and it was up in three.

Green clay is packed into the wound  The vet revives the elephant

Prognosis

Remarkable wound healing sign were obvious making prognosis favorable. Only that it will heal with contracture as the left carpal joint is undergoing fusion.

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 12/12/2016

Species: Elephant          

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Komboyo; Tsavo East

History

This elephant was reported to Amboseli Vet on the morning of 12/12/2016 by Senior Warden Tsavo West. At the time of reporting the vet was attending another case of elephant injury at Maktau gate with the DWST fixed wing aircraft. The bull was said to have necrotic tissues protruding from the umbilical region appearing like intestines. It was reported to be in no pain; feeding and ambulating well. The vet was dropped at Komboyo Airstrip by the same plane that afternoon to join the DWST de-snaring team on the ground. After darting the animal ran into thick bush necessitating the DWST chopper to be called in to assist in locating the immobilized elephant which was successfully located.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was found browsing at the edge of the road. It started moving away before darting prompting the vet to dart the animal quickly from foot using 17mgs Etorphine in 1.5cc dart into the gluteal muscles. It was followed on foot but the thick bush made it difficult to have a successful search. After twelve minutes the DWST chopper assistance was sought which quickly responded from Kaluku and located the fully anaesthetized bull in right recumbence by the twentieth minute since time of darting. The left ear was used as blind fold and the trunk was kept patent by placing a piece of stick across the extreme open end to allow free respiration. Breathing was deep at 7/minute and temperature was 39.9 degree Celsius. Copious amount of water was used to cool the animal during the operation.

the elephant had necrotic tissues protruding from the umbilical region  the elephant had necrotic tissues protruding from the umbilical region

 It was established that the hanging debris were emanating from what appeared as an open arrow injury pouch rostral to umbilical area. There was also accompanying pus making the wound have foul smell.

The opening was enlarged by use of a surgical blade to facilitate complete and thorough emptying of the pouch of dead debris. Hemostats were used to control the bleeders which were severed in enlarging the pouch opening. The emptied pouch was thoroughly cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide and Tincture of Iodine and  then packed generously with Wet Green Clay. Systemically the bull was covered with 600000mgs Tetracycline into muscles and 50ml Dexamethasone into ear vein. The dart wound was infiltrated with one Cloxacillin cream tube to avoid abscess development and another used on both eyes.

The vet assesses the extent of the injury  All the necrotic tissue is removed

Reversal

The huge bull was revived using 80mgs Naltrexone intravenously after forty minutes since darting time. He got up from narcosis in three minutes and walked lazily away.

Prognosis

It has favorable prognosis because the injury had not impacted negatively on feeding and ambulation. A review will be made after ten days if sighted.

CASE#7 DESNARING OF A GIRAFFE

Date: 14/12/2016

Species: Maasai Giraffe         

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Oldonyo Wuas; Chyulu Hills

History

It was reported by Big life rangers after being elusive over a long period. Prompt measures were taken to effect treatment.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The giraffe was immobilized using 15mgs Etorphine and 35mg Azaperone in a 3cc dart from a vehicle. It kept on walking slowly after darting only to begin a short gallop after five minutes. It was roped on the seventh minute after exhibiting star gazing posture. It fell on left lateral recumbence and maintained on the ground by physical restraint.

A giraffe is seen with a snare injury  The vet darts the giraffe for treatment

The right hind limb had sustained a severe injury at the distal metatarsus near the fetlock joint as a result of a tight winch snare wire. As a result the hoof had knuckled and suffered bruising due to friction during movement. Its health status was good exhibiting good muscle cover. It was observed that once the snare was removed it could still survive though with a deformed foot.

The snare wire was deeply embedded in the scarring traumatic wound. It was removed with the help of long nose pliers and severed by a wire cutter carefully avoiding unnecessary trauma. This was aided safely by anchoring the two top most limbs onto the car to avoid kicking. This had to be done rather quickly before the immobilization impacted negatively on the candidate.

The snare has caused extensive damage to the foot  The snare is removed from the leg

It was revived  with 80mgs Naltrexone into the jugular vein. This now allowed systematic cleaning of the resultant wound with Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine. The woud was sprayed with Tetracycline wound spray followed with a generous amount of wet green clay. The right eye was infiltrated with Cloxacillin eye ointment as was the dart wound. The operation lasted for thirty minutes.

The wound is cleaned and treated  Iodine and Hydrogen Peroxide is used to clean the wound

It was injected with 15000mgs Amoxicillin into muscles and also with 50mgs Dexamethasone.

It was sluggish getting up and support was offered which was sufficient to keep his head up enabling him to get to his feet.

 A review will be made after 10-15 days if sighted.

Prognosis

It has a favorable prognosis apart from the fact that the affected limb will never assume normal anatomical figure.

CASE#8; TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT

Date: 15th Dec 2016

Species: Elephant          

Sex: Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Kaluku; Tsavo East

History

After being elusive for about a week this elephant was spotted by the DWST air team who kept surveillance until the Amboseli vet was procured to offer the necessary treatment. The vet was picked by DWST air craft from Amboseli N.P. to Kaluku air strip to join the DWST ground and air team. It had pus oozing wound on the left belly side.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Helicopter darting was paramount considering the terrain in which the candidate was in. A euro copter was used in the exercise and the candidate was immobilized using 17mgs Etorphine in a 3cc dart after pushing it to a convenient fairly open ground to allow the ground team accessibility and any maneuver if required. The dart landed on the spine and after fifteen minutes it was determined that another dart was necessary. A second dart was prepared quickly while in the chopper of the same dose. The dart struck the left rump and the elephant was down on left recumbence in five minutes.

The helicopter circles to locate the elephant  The injured elephant is seen

The chopper landed and the vet coordinated the exercise. It had to be flipped to the right recumbence to expose the injury on the left side. This was done with ropes anchored on a bush truck. His left ear was used as a blind fold. The exercise had to be done quickly because the candidate had been driven for a long period using chopper exacerbated by the initial faulty dart. The trunk was maintained patent by use of a piece of stick.

Ropes are used to flip the elephant  Ropes are used to flip the elephant

The oozing wound was barely ten centimeters deep and approximately could hold about a hundred milliliters. It was probed for any foreign body but none was recovered. It was presumed to have been inflicted by an arrow.

The wound was liberally cleaned with Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine. One Cloxacillin Ointment tube was infiltrated into the pouch followed by wet green clay. Systemically it was covered with 30000mgs Tetracycline into two different muscle sites and 50ml Dexamethasone intravenously to stabilize cell membranes and avoid capture myopathy after a long trail.

The wound was presumed to have been inflicted by an arrow  The wound is cleaned with hydrogen peroxide

Reversal

Anesthesia was reversed using 80mgs Naltrexone Hydrochloride mixed with 12mgs Diprenorphine Hydrochloride into jugular vein. He was up in one and half minutes and walked into thick bush nearby.

The bull is revived and moved off  The bull is revived and moved off

Prognosis

Favorable.

CASE#9 MANYANI LION INVASION

Date: 28-29/12/2016

Species: Lion Pride        

Sex: Lioness and two cubs

Age:  One Adult & Two Juveniles

Location: Manyani Law Enforcement Academy; Tsavo East

History

A report was received on the 27/12/2016 from Deputy Commandant-LEA concerning invasion of the institution compound by a pride of lions for the last one week. The pride was reported to be sometimes two, four, and a times six members. They posed a security threat as they were seen near residence areas at night and hiding in the bushes during the day. The Vet Unit was called to capture and translocate the pride.

Recce

After being briefed of the situation the whole area was inspected for the cats’ presence and activities and it was established the cats were in the compound. The team on the ground had set a trap with bait to trap the individual the previous night which was unsuccessful as the trap was not suitable for large cat capture. It was also learnt that helicopter services had been requested to try and chase the lions away from the compound.

It was noted that within the enclosed compound there were other wild animals which were thought to be behind the cats’ invasion. These included two zebras; a male and a female, more than four waterbucks, at least two lesser kudus and multiple dikdiks. The bushes and thickets within the compound were noted to be thick with plenty of undergrowth due to the recent rains and outcropping rocks making the habitat suitable for the cats and a challenging one for darting exercise.

 After the recce the following was communicated to the Deputy Commandant during debrief;

  1. The herbivores within the compound should be attempted to be removed by darting and releasing outside the compound
  2. More suitable (two compartment) traps (at least two) were needed
  3. The fence was not a hundred percent invasion proof and that animals could invade even after the ones inside are removed. For effective electric fence the vegetation growth near the fence line should be controlled. Gate would remain electrified during the night as it was previously witnessed that the cats had attempted to gain entrance through the gate.

Exercise

The chopper came in the afternoon and was able to flush out two cubs, two waterbucks and a lesser kudu. The lioness and zebras proved to be difficult. The lioness remained under the thickets and the zebras kept on galloping around the compound.

A helicopter is called in to help

One male zebra was darted using 4mgs Etorphine and 70mgs Azaperone. It was revived on the other side of the fence with 40mgs Naltrexone into jugular vein. Attempts to remove the female were unsuccessful due to the terrain. The exercise was postponed till the following day but unfortunately the male zebra was back through the fence into the compound to join the female.

The trap was checked the following day and indicated that the cat had visited the trap and released it. She had attempted to get out the bait but the trap was too short. It was asserted that she was half way into the trap only to be hit by the trap door on the back. She crawled back getting out of the trap.

A trap is set for the lion

The two zebras were darted almost simultaneously which allowed them to be transported together by the lorry and were released across the highway into Tsavo East through Manyani Gate. Each was darted with 4mgs Etorphine and 70mgs Azaperone and revived at release site with 40mgs Naltrexone into jugular vein. They recognized one another after narcosis and mingled with a nearby herd.

The zebra is caught and translocated  The zebra is caught and translocated outside the fence

Attempts to dart the waterbuck proved futile as it was very shy. The exercise was called off to allow the Vet Unit to attend to other duties in different areas of its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile there was hope that the chopper would attempt another drive that afternoon and that more traps would be sourced to speed up with safe trapping of the cats.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We join hands in recognition of bounteous support and funding through David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in conjunction with entire KWS Fraternity in this month’ achievement. We cannot forget all other friends of conservation including affiliated stakeholders such as Big Life Foundation, surrounding Community Conservancies among many. Together we achieve more.