The Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - September 2017

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Introduction

The month of September continued to experience a dry spell with no rains leading to pronounced drought effects observed mainly in elephant calves and aged individuals. Some showers were experienced in Tsavo to the great relief of everyone but unfortunately it didn’t last.

Several elephant calves were rescued and taken to Voi and Nairobi while emaciated and recumbent old elephants had to be euthanized to end their suffering. In other cases, an elephant bull was treated for a snare wound on the leg in Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary, an injured KWS horse was treated for a head injury in Ziwani camp and there was a treatment of a lame buffalo.

1. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Species: Loxodanta Africana

Sex: Male

Age: 6 months old

Location: Ndii, Tsavo East

Date: 5th September

History, treatment and rescue

A report was made by KWS rangers of one elephant calf that was lying down and unresponsive near a water hole along Mzima pipeline near Ndii area of Tsavo East.

The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the baby elephant barely able to breath and flat on the ground. The calf was covered with a blanket because he appeared in shock and 20 cc of dexamethasone Hcl administered through the ear vein followed by a bolus of 50% dextrose by slow IV.

Calf found lying unresponsive  Cooling the calf and covering with blanket as in shock

The breathing and pulse improved. Further administration of antibiotics, Vitamin B12 complex and more IV fluid therapy was instituted. The calf stabilized and was airlifted to Nairobi stockade for more intensive care where he recovered fully and joined other orphans in the nursery.

Administering dextrose  Administering antibiotics and Vitamins

 

2. TREATMENT OF AN ELEPHANT BULL

Date:  6th September 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Male

Age: Adult

Location: Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary

History

A report was received from the DSWT Bura de-snaring team of an injured elephant bull within Taita Hills Conservancy with serious front limb lameness from suspected snare injury. The Vet team rushed to the area and found the bull nearby under a tree resting.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine Hcl(0.98%) (M99®) 18 mgs 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Vehicle darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle (Dan-inject APS, Sellerup Skovvej, Denmark) the elephant was darted and was immobilized after 7 minutes and fell on the left flank.

There was a deep cutting snare wound on the front left limb with blood oozing out. The snare was cut loose after a big struggle and the wound was washed clean with water mixed with hydrogen peroxide, necrotic tissues and pus were removed and the wound doused with tincture of iodine.

Snare cutting into the bulls leg  Cutting the wire snare out was very hard

Removing the wire snare  Washing the wound

Removing dead and necrotic tissue  Cleaning the wound with hydrogen peroxide

Green clay was used to cover the wound. An intravenous administration of dexamethasone Hcl was given through the ear vein and long acting antibiotics administered by intramuscular injections.

Wound was covered in green clay to aid healing

Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine at 3 times the etorphine dose.

Prognosis is guarded and the bull assisted onto his feet.

 

3. TREATMENT OF A SNARED BUFFALO

Species:     Buffalo

Sex:             Male

Age:            Adult

Date:           6th September 2017

Place:          Salt Lick Sanctuary

Introduction

Just after treating the snared elephant another report was received from the sanctuary of a buffalo with a snare around the neck reported by rangers from Taita Salt Lick Sanctuary. The team rushed in to find the massive bull lying down in tall grass.

Buffalo bull found lying in tall grass

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine Hcl(0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 8 mgs and 60 mgs of xylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Vehicle darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle (Dan-inject APS, Sellerup Skovvej, Denmark) the Bufallo was darted and was immobilized after 7 minutes.

The not so tight wire snare around the neck was removed. Long acting Tetracycline and Dexamethasone were administered parenterally. Prognosis is good. Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine Hcl at 3 times the etorphine dose mixed with 0.5 cc Atipemazole hcl administered intravenously.

The snare was not tight and was removed

 

4. EXAMINATION OF ELEPHANT CARCASSES

Animal: African Elephant

Species: Loxodanta Africana

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Satao, Tsavo East

Date of clinical intervention: 7th September 2017

History and Examination

A report was made by Satao Camp of an elephant carcass near the lodge within Tsavo East National Park. The Tsavo unit team unit visited the area to ascertain the cause of death.

The carcass was lying on the left flank and at mid-advanced state of decomposition. There was scavenger activity on the carcass with the tusks still intact. The skin was removed from carcass to expose the whitish subcutis and examine any penetrating wounds but none were found.

Elephant carcass

The carcasses were rolled over to expose the left flank and autopsy undertaken with no signs of external injury observed. Tusks were retrieved and taken for safe custody.

 

The cause of deaths was through natural cause and drought related.

 

5. ELEPHANT AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Species:     African Elephant

Sex:             2 Female calves and a calf skull

Age:            Adult

Date:           8th September 2017

Place:          Aruba and Satao, Tsavo East

Introduction and autopsy

A report was made by DSWT patrol aeroplane of a mother elephant with a sick calf as well as another lone elephant calf seen lying down near Ashnil Aruba lodge. The Tsavo vet unit visited the areas to ascertain the causes of death.

The Aruba calf was found already dead and aged at 2 and ½ years with slight scavenger activity on the perineal and trunk. The skin was removed from carcass to expose the whitish subcutis and examine any penetrating wounds but none were found. An autopsy was undertaken with no signs of external injury observed.

Aruba calf was dead with slight scavenger activity

Tusks were retrieved and taken for safe custody. The cause of death was through natural/drought related. On our way to Satao the team stumbled onto an elephant calf skull with tiny tusks which were removed.

Elephant skull with tiny tusks that were removed

Further away in Satao another calf aged at 4 years had collapsed and the mother nearby was examined, cooled down with water whilst the calf was covered with a blanket because he appeared in shock and 20 cc of dexamethasone Hcl administered through the ear vein followed by a bolus of 50% dextrose by slow IV. The breathing and pulse improved. Further administration of antibiotics, Vitamin B12 complex and more IV fluid therapy was instituted.

Calf found collapsed   Calf was cooled with water before rescue

Prognosis

The calf stabilized and was moved to Voi stockade for more intensive care where she succumbed two days later.

 

6. ELEPHANT AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Species:    Elephant (4)

Sex:            2 adult Females and 2 calves

Age:           Adults and calves

Date:          8th September 2017

Place:         Kanderi swamp, Tsavo East

Introduction and autopsy

A report was made of elephant carcasses near Kanderi swamp by tour operators, that were at advanced and mid-states of decomposition. The Tsavo vet unit visited the area to ascertain the causes of death. They were lying about 300 metres from each other.

The first carcass was moderately decomposed and scavenged. No external injuries were observed and the cause of death put as drought related. Tusks were removed for safe custody.

Moderately decomposed carcass with scavenger activity

The second carcass was a calf aged about 2 years and heavily decomposed and scavenged and the skeleton was the only thing remaining. Cause of death also drought related, tusks still intact and removed for safe custody.

Heavily decomposed elephant carcass with bones remaining

A third carcass belonging to an old carcass with bones scattered in the area but tusks intact, cause of death unknown.

Old carcass with scattered bones but tusks still intact

The third was a 2-year-old calf that had died 3-4 days earlier, cause of death is drought related.

2 year old elephant carcass a few days old

The cause of deaths was put as natural/drought related in the four cases above. Tsavo East is witnessing increased mortalities due to a long dry spell ravaging the area.

 

7. ELEPHANT COW AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Species:     Elephant

Sex:             Female

Age:            Adult

Date:           12th September 2017

Place:          Satao, Tsavo east

Introduction

A report was made by Satao Lodge of an elephant carcass near the lodge within the Tsavo East National Park. The Tsavo vet unit visited the area to ascertain the cause of death.

The carcass was lying on the left flank and still fresh hence must have died that morning. No external injuries were observed. Autopsy was undertaken and no lesions were seen apart from the poor body condition.

Carcass lying on left flank  The elephant had only died recently but was in poor condition

Prognosis

Cause of death was put as starvation/drought effects due to the long dry spell within Tsavo.

 

8. ELEPHANT AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Species:     Elephant

Sex:            1 calf, 1 bull and 1 cow

Age:            Calf and Adults

Date:           13th September 2017

Place:          Punda Milia, Sala and Satao, Tsavo East

Introduction and autopsy

A report was made by KWS rangers of elephant calf that had collapsed near Punda Milia, Tsavo East with the mother still nearby. The Tsavo vet unit visited the area to ascertain the cause of problem. On arrival the mother was very defensive and we had to push her away. Close examination of the calf revealed that it was already dead. Death is drought related.

The team travelled to Sala’s gate next to examine another elephant bull carcass. The carcass was lying on the left flank and at mid-state of decomposition. There was slight scavenger activity on the carcass with the tusks still intact. The skin was removed from carcass to expose the whitish subcutis and examine any penetrating wounds but none were found. The carcass was rolled over to expose the left flank and autopsy undertaken with no signs of external injury observed. Tusks were retrieved and taken for safe custody.

Carcass in mid decomposition with scavenger activity

The team left and headed for Satao where a female elephant carcass on sternal recumbency was seen by one of their guests. The mono tusker was examined and nothing was observed. The lone tusk was removed for safe custody.

Mono tusk elephant carcass also died from the drought

Prognosis

The cause of deaths was through natural cause coupled with the poor nutrition/drought.

 

9. TREATMENT OF A LAME BUFFALO

Species:Buffalo

Sex:             Female

Age:             Adult

Date:           14th September 2017

Place:          Irima, Tsavo East

Introduction

Buffalo with lameness was reported by DSWT desnaring team near Irima hill within Tsavo East National Park. The team rushed in to find the cow lying down in some bushes with some lions nearby.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Etorphine Hcl(0.98%) (M99®) (Norvatis South Africa (Pty) Ltd) 7 mgs and 60 mgs of xylazine in a 1.5 ml Dan - inject dart was prepared. Vehicle darting was carried out. Using a Dan inject® dart rifle (Dan-inject APS, Sellerup Skovvej, Denmark) the Buffalo was darted and was immobilized after 7 minutes. The front hoof was examined and a penetrating wound was seen. It was cleaned and green clay applied.Tetracycline and Dexamethasone were administered parenterally.

Treating a lame buffalo

Prognosis is guarded. Anaesthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine Hcl at 3 times the etorphine dose mixed with 0.5 cc Atipemazole Hcl administered intravenously.

 

10. EXAMINATION OF AN ELEPHANT COW

Date:  14th September 2017

Species: Loxodanta Africana (African Elephant)

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Dika plains, Tsavo East

History

Report was received from tour drivers of an injured elephant cow that was recumbent and flat on the ground and suspected to be dead near Dika plains along Satao- Dakota powerline within Tsavo East.

The team rushed to the area and found the cow flat on the ground and barely breathing but alive. The body condition was poor.

The poor elephant was barely alive

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Treatment with antibiotics, colvasone, vitamin B12 complex and Dextrose IV bolus shots were administered but the response was minimal. Attempts to pull her onto her feet also proved unsuccessful.

Prognosis

With very poor prognosis she was euthanized and the tusks removed for safe custody. The poor condition is drought related.

The decision was made to euthanise the elephant

 

11. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Animal: African Elephant

Species: Loxodanta Africana

Sex: Female

Age: 3 Years

Location: Irima, Tsavo East

Date: 16th September

History, treatment and rescue

A report was made by tour drivers of one elephant calf that was lying down near a road at Irima area of Tsavo East. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the young elephant flat on the ground, emaciated and unable to stand up.

The young calf was found lying flat on the ground

The calf was covered with a blanket because he appeared in shock and 20 cc of dexamethasone Hcl administered through the ear vein followed by a bolus of 50% dextrose by slow IV. The breathing and pulse improved. Further administration of antibiotics, Vitamin B12 complex and more IV fluid therapy was instituted.

Reversing the vehicle to load the calf  Loading the calf into the vehicle

The calf stabilized and was transported to Voi stockade with the assistance of the Voi stockade team for more intensive care. After five days struggle of treatment, feeding and care she succumbed to the current effects of drought.

Calf ready to be transported to the Voi stockades  Administering vitamins

In the stockade to recuperate

 

12. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Species: Loxodanta Africana

Sex: Male

Age: 11/2 months old

Location: Sentrim, Tsavo East

Date: 17th September

History, treatment and rescue

A report was made by KWS rangers of one elephant calf that was standing alone under a tree near sentrim along Voi River area of Tsavo East and a pride of lions nearby.

Calf standing alone under a tree

The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the baby elephant still under a tree. The calf was rescued then covered with a blanket and taken to Voi stockade. As it was very aggressive he was tranquilised using 20 mgs of Azaperone. 20 cc of Dexamethasone Hcl administered through the ear vein followed by Colvasone Vitamin B12 complex and Enrofloxacin both IM.

Transporting to the Voi stockade

Prognosis

The calf is so far doing well at Voi stockade.

 

13. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Species: Loxodanta Africana

Sex: Male

Age: 3 Years

Location: Kanderi, Tsavo East.

Date: 18th September.

History, treatment and rescue

A report was made by tour drivers of one elephant calf that was lying down and unable to stand up near a road at Kanderi area of Tsavo east. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area. The calf was covered with a blanket because he appeared in shock. Further administration of antibiotics, Vitamin B12 complex and more IV fluid therapy was instituted. The calf stabilized and was transported to Voi stockade with the assistance of the Voi stockade team.

Calf found lying unable to stand  Administering antibiotics and vitamins

Prognosis

Even after treatment, feeding and care he succumbed to the current effects of drought that night.

 

14. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Species: Loxodanta Africana

Sex: Female

Age: 4 years old

Location:  Aruba, Tsavo East

Date: 23rd September

History, treatment and rescue

A report was made by tour operators of one elephant calf that was lying down near Aruba lodge area of Tsavo East. The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the elephant calf flat on the ground.

The calf was covered with a blanket because he appeared in shock and 20 cc of dexamethasone Hcl administered through the ear vein followed by a bolus of 50% dextrose by slow IV. The breathing and pulse improved. Further administration of antibiotics, Vitamin B12 complex and more IV fluid therapy was instituted.

Calf was found in shock and taken to the Voi stockades

Prognosis

The calf stabilized and transported to Voi stockade where it succumbed a day later due to the effects of the drought.

 

15. RESCUE OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Sex: Female

Age: 11/2 months old

Location: Dika plains, Tsavo East

Date: 25th September

History and rescue

A report was made by tour drivers of one elephant calf that was standing alone in vast Dika plains area of Tsavo East.

The vet team together with the Voi stockade team rushed to the area to find the baby elephant alone with no herd nearby. The calf was rescued then covered with a blanket and airlifted by DSWT helicopter to Nairobi.

Capturing the calf for rescue  Preparing for the flight to the Nairobi Nursery

 

16. ELEPHANT AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Sex:             Male

Age:            8 years old

Date:           25th September 2017

Place:          Dika plains, Tsavo east

Introduction

After the vet team rescued the elephant carcass near the lodge within the Tsavo East National Park. The Tsavo vet unit visited the area to ascertain the cause of death.  The carcass was lying on the left flank and at an advanced level of decomposition. No external injuries were observed. Autopsy was undertaken and no lesions were seen apart from the poor body condition. Tusks were removed and taken for safe custody.

 

Prognosis - Cause of death was put as starvation/drought effects due to the long dry spell within Tsavos.

 

17. EXAMINATION OF ELEPHANT CARCASS

Sex: Female

Age: Adult

Location: Ndololo camp, Tsavo East

Date of clinical intervention: 26th September 2017

History and Examination

A report was made by tour drivers of an Elephant that had died near the road to Ndololo camp within Tsavo East National Park. The Tsavo unit team unit visited the area to ascertain the cause of death. She is one of the matriarchs that are resident in the area.

There was no scavenger activity on the carcass with the tusks still intact but carcass condition was very poor. The skin was removed from carcass to expose the whitish subcutis and examine any penetrating wounds but none were found. The carcasses were rolled over to expose the left flank and autopsy undertaken with no signs of external injury observed. Tusks were retrieved and taken for safe custody.

Elephant cow carcass

Prognosis: The cause of deaths was through natural cause and drought related.

 

18. ELEPHANT AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Sex:             Calf and unknown

Age:            Calf and Adult

Date:           26th September 2017

Place:          Aruba lodge wind mill, Tsavo East

Introduction and autopsy

A report was made by tour drivers of an elephant calf that had collapsed near Aruba water wind mill, Tsavo East and another decomposed carcass suspected to belong to a mid-age female also nearby. The Tsavo vet unit visited the area to ascertain the cause of the problem. Close examination of the calf revealed that it was already dead. The carcass was pulled away from the road.

A decomposed carcass

The team moved next to examine another elephant carcass nearby. The carcass was in advanced state of decomposition but the tusks were still intact. Tusks were retrieved and taken for safe custody.

Prognosis

The cause of deaths was drought related.

 

19. ELEPHANT AUTOPSY EXAMINATION

Species:     Elephant

Sex:             Calf and unknown

Age:            5 years

Date:           27th September 2017

Place:          Rhino area, Tsavo East

Introduction and autopsy

While patrolling the park, the vet team ran across a 5-year-old Elephant carcass near Rhino area of Tsavo East.  Close examination of the calf revealed that it was already dead and blood oozing from the trunk.

Sadly the calf was already dead upon arrival

 

Prognosis

The cause of death is drought related.

Other activities undertaken

  • The unit examined several wildlife trophies/parts and produced expert reports to aid in prosecution of the offenders in court and testified in court on the same.
  • The unit treated horse injured in the head based at Ziwani camp for cattle drives purposes.