The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - February 2017

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FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR TSAVO MOBILE VET UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY 2017

Reported by Dr Jeremiah Poghon

The month of February witnessed a slight increase in injured elephant cases and other species due to an increase in poaching attempts by use of firearms, spears and snares. In the Month under review an Elephant bull was treated in Osewan Conservancy near Amboseli National Park for a spear injury to the leg, a lioness was treated for a fight injury near Sarova Salt lick lodge and snares were removed from two waterbucks and a giraffe near the lodge. An autopsy was carried out on an elephant bull with a bullet injury in Rukinga ranch and an elephant calf was rescued from a septic tank and taken to Nairobi orphanage. Lastly a buffalo calf was rescued and taken to Voi stockade from the same area.

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT BULL

Date: 2nd February 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex:  Male

Age:  Adult (about 40 years)

Location: Osewan conservancy, Amboseli

History

The elephant bull was spotted in Osewan conservancy Amboseli with fresh blood oozing from its leg. The vet was airlifted from Tsavo east by a DSWT fixed wing aeroplane to attend to the case. After searching for about an hour the Elephant was not spotted due to thick bushes. The next morning a request for a chopper was made and it arrived that morning. The Elephant bull was finally spotted after a two hour search by the DSWT chopper.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was located with the aid of DSWT chopper and darted with 18 mgs of Etorphine in a Dan-Inject dart from a Dan-Inject dart gun. It took him 7 minutes to go down on sternal recumbency and he was pushed to lateral recumbency to access the wounded part of the leg.

There was a fresh deep penetrating wound caused by a spear on the lateral aspect of the left front leg. Necrotic tissues, plus and blood were drained out, and the wound then cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were applied and a final cover of wetted green clay was used to cover the wound.

Treating an Injured Elephant  Treating an Injured Elephant

An intravenous administration of 100 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and 200 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.     

Reversal and Prognosis

Drug reversal was acheived by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. He stood up and walked away calmly. Prognosis is guarded.

CASE#2 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED LION

Date: 6th February 2017

Species: African lion

Sex: Female

Age: Young adult

Location: Taita salt lick lodge, Tsavo

 History

The lioness was reported to be in a pride of 3 others with an injury on the right thigh area. The injuries were thought to be caused by a Buffalo attack. 

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The lion was immobilized with a dart containing 300 mgs of Ketamine and 4 mgs of Meditomidine. It took about 5 minutes for the anesthetic to take effect and a vehicle was used to keep the pride away whilst the lion was moved to a shaded area.

The lion is darted for treatment   The Vet examines the wounds

The gaping wound that cut through the skin and muscles was cleaned and sutured using size 2-0 nylon suture. Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline were applied and then green clay was used to cover the sutured area to aid in healing. 15 CC of long acting Amoxicillin and 10cc Dexamethasone was administered parenterally.

The wounds are thought to be caused by a buffalo  The wounds are thought to be caused by a buffalo

Reversal and Prognosis

The Lion was revived using 2.5 mgs of Atipemazole. Further follow up indicated great improvement.

CASE#3 ELEPHANT AUTOPSY REPORT

Date of autopsy: 15th February 2017

Species: African Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Rukinga ranch, Tsavo East

History

A report was made by KWS rangers of an Elephant bull that was shot in an attempted poaching incident but survived and died later inside Rukinga ranch adjacent to Tsavo east National park.

An Elephant Carcass is found

Autopsy

The carcass was lying on the left flank with the face chopped off and tusks recovered by KWS rangers. The carcass was fresh and the front right limb was swollen and bone fragments visible from the skin. Autopsy revealed complete facture of radial and fibula bones. Cause of the fracture was a high velocity projectile (bullet) from the attempted poaching. Cause of death – Haemorrhage from bullet shot

CASE#4 DESNARING OF A WATERBUCK

Date: 16th February 2017

Species: Waterbuck

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Sarova Taita lodge, Tsavo

History

The Waterbuck was seen at the Taita lodge water hole with a wire snare dangling from its neck.

A waterbuck is seen with a snare around the neck  The Team move in to assist the waterbuck

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The waterbuck was immobilized using 6 mgs Etorphine and 40 mgs Xylazine. The antelope was darted in the rump and went down after six minutes. The wire snare was removed from the neck and thankfully was not tight so had not caused any wounds requiring treatment.

The Snare is removed from the Neck

Reversal and Prognosis

The anesthesia was reversed and the waterbuck let free. Prognosis is good.

CASE#5 DESNARING OF A GIRAFFE

Date: 16th February

Species: Maasai Giraffe

Sex:  Male

Age:  Adult

Location: Sarova salt lick lodge, Tsavo

History

Shortly after de-snaring the waterbuck, a giraffe was spotted with a tight wire snare around its lower leg near Taita lodge.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The giraffe was immobilized using 12 mgs of Etorphine mixed with 60 mgs of Xylazine. It took 10 minutes for the anesthetic to take effect and the giraffe was roped down to lateral recumbency. The anesthesia was immediately reversed using Diprenorphine mixed with Naltrexone and Atipemazole Hcl administered through the jugular vein and the giraffe held down by the neck for snare removal.

A giraffe has been caught in a snare  A giraffe has been caught in a snare

The tight wire snare around the right rear limb was removed with wire cutters. The wound was then cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide before tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray was applied. A final cover of wetted green clay was used to cover the wound.

The wire snare is removed with wire cutters  The wounds are cleaned

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was given through the jugular vein and 100 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.

The wound is cleaned and treated

     

Prognosis

The giraffe was released free but was too weak to stand up. Ropes and several staff pulled him to a sitting position from which he stood up and walked away calmly. Prognosis is good.

CASE#6 DESNARING OF A WATERBUCK

Date: 16th February 2017

Species: Waterbuck

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Sarova salt lick lodge, Tsavo

History

Shortly after the Vet Unit treated the giraffe, a second waterbuck was reported near Taita salt lick lodge water hole with a wire snare dangling from its neck.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The waterbuck was immobilized using 6 mgs Etorphine and 40 mgs Xylazine. Luckily the snare was not tight and had not caused any wounds to the waterbuck. After the drugs took effect, the snare was easily removed and the anesthetic reversed.

A second waterbuck is seen with a snare

Prognosis

Prognosis is good.

CASE#7 RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF IN TAITA SALT LICK LODGE

Date: 22nd February 2017

Animal: African Elephant

Species: Elephant

Sex: Male

Age: 1 month old

Location: Taita salt lick lodge, Tsavo East

History

A report was made by Taita salt lick lodge staff regarding an elephant calf that had fallen into a septic tank near the lodge with no family around.

A young elephant has fallen into a septic tank  A young elephant has fallen into a septic tank

Rescue

The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant swimming inside the septic tank desperately trying to find a way out. The tiny elephant was rescued from the pit with the use of ropes and an air evacuation from DSWT Nairobi orphanage was requested.

The Vet Unit is called to assist in a rescue  The tiny elephant is extracted and taken to the Nairobi Nursery

 

Prognosis

Due to his age the calf was airlifted to Nairobi orphanage for care. Prognosis is good.

CASE#8 TREATMENT OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT COW

Date: 23rd February 2017

Species: Elephant

Sex: Female

Age:  Adult (About 30 years)

Location: Tiva River, Tsavo east

History

Reports indicated that the condition of an elephant cow treated on 31st January in the Tiva River area had deteriorated hence repeat treatment was necessary. The vet was airlifted by DSWT aircraft to Kaluku then by helicopter to the site for easier darting. The lame Elephant was found inside Tiva river bed in great pain.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was approached on foot and darted with 18 mgs of Etorphine from a Dan-inject dart gun. It took about 6 minutes for the anesthetic to take effect and the elephant went down in left lateral recumbency.

There was a septic wound with pus oozing out on the medial aspect of the right front limb near the fetlock joint. The wound was opened for the necrotic tissues and the pus to be drained out, then cleaned using water mixed with Hydrogen peroxide. Tincture of iodine and Oxytetracycline spray were applied before a cover of wetted green clay was used to cover the wound.

An intravenous administration of 50 cc Dexamethasone Hcl was administered through the ear vein and 100 cc of long acting Amoxicillin injected intramuscularly.     

Reversal and Prognosis

The anesthetic was reversed by administration of Diprenorphine Hcl at three times the Etorphine dose. She was helped onto her feet by ropes tied onto a landcruiser. Prognosis is poor.

Other cases handled by the unit

On the 23rd Feb 2017, the unit was called in to rescue a buffalo calf near Sarova salt lick lodge and took it to Voi Elephant stockade but it succumbed days later.

A baby buffalo is rescued  A baby buffalo is rescued

Acknowledgement

The unit also appreciates the support of its sponsors ViER PFOTEN through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for their immense financial contribution to the unit.  We also thank Kenya Wildlife Service through the Assistant director Tsavo conservation area and the head, veterinary and capture services department for their support.