The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit
Field Report - March 2007
Naivasha Nile hippos and Buffalos mortalities
It was reported to the veterinary department that buffaloes were dying in Colour Crop farm, Loldia farm and Marula farm. By the time of reporting more than 10 buffaloes had died in Colour crop farm, 2 in Loldia and 1 in Marula farm. There was therefore need to carry out a postmortem on the dead animals and then do an investigation to confirm the cause of these mortalities and to then come up with control measures.
Four buffalo carcasses of between 1 – 3 days old were found in Colour Crop farm, they were all adult males that were in good body condition and died in close proximity of each other. The significant postmortem signs observed were oedematous swellings of the perineum and anal region, generalized emphysema / bloated carcass, dark and watery blood with air bubbles.
No carcass was opened up for detailed examination because anthrax infection was suspected in all the four carcasses examined and proper immediate proper disposal by burial and application of quick lime on the ground and on the carcass was recommended. Blood smears were made from the oozing blood from the nostrils because the superficial ear-veins had collapsed and dried. These smears were fixed in 1% Mercuric chloride and submitted to the laboratory for examination. In two of the slides rods of bacteria resembling those of anthrax were observed under the microscope, but the slides were not the best since the smears were watery with little contents to observe after staining. Eight buffaloes from the affected herds were immobilized and blood samples collected for screening in the lab.
A tentative diagnosis of anthrax infection was made after observing the postmortem lesions and the outcome of the blood smears. Later on when 12 Nile hippos died in the same location as buffaloes another postmortem examination was carried out and tissue samples and more blood smears collected for further laboratory tests, it was suspected that the same infection in buffaloes was transmitted to hippos through pasture and water contamination.
Treatment of zebra snare wounds in Naivasha
On 8th/3/07 at 3.00pm we received a report from the manager of Marula ranch that a male adult zebra was seen limping within the ranch and needed veterinary intervention. The animal was snared about two weeks previously but the wire had fellan off but not before inflicting a severe injury on the carpal joint of the left front limb. The zebra was sighted while in the company of a younger foal, it had difficulty in walking and it was reported that it had been limping for more than two weeks.
The wound was chemically debrided using 10% hydrogen peroxide followed by application of tincture of iodine and sprayed by oxytetracycline spray. It was further treated using antibiotics, multivitamins and dexamethasone anti-inflammatory drug, these were administered intramuscularly. Prognosis was good after the treatment as the animal was still in good body condition and arthritis had not yet set in. The animal was then revived and released back to the wild.
During treatment and after the treatment of a snare wound in Naivasha.
On 10th/3/07 an adult male zebra was found with left front limb completely cut off at the fetlock joint. It could only move by jumping while holding the severed limb, it seemed to have adapted to walking on three legs. Two zebras had a similar condition in the group that we were observing and we decided to attend to them one after the other. These animals were very shy we only managed to immobilize one by darting from a vehicle after trying for a long time. We thought of euthanizing the animal but after examining the limb I realized that it was only the hoof that had detached leaving a raw wound, the hoof is likely to grow sometimes after the treatment. The zebra was therefore treated for the wound by topical application of tincture of iodine and intramuscular administration of antibiotics, multivitamins and antinflammatory drug.
The prognosis was favourable after treatment as the wound will heal and the hoof re-grows. The animal was then revived and released back to the wild. On that same day we received a call from Marula farm that they had found a dead Heartbeest whose cause of death was not known, this required a postmortem examination to ascertain the cause of death before advanced decomposition. There was also another call from Masai Mara national Reserve that there was an elephant with a greatly swollen front limb that could hardly move and this required an urgent veterinary attention. So we left the other zebra to be treated the following day.
Postmortem examination of a Heartbeest in Marula farm Naivasha.
The heartbeest was found dead on 10th/ 3/ 07 in the morning and the carcass was not yet fully decomposed, part of it especially the head region had been preyed on by the vultures. Significant signs found during the postmortem examination were greatly enlarged gall bladder and the omasum (book stomach) was full of hardened stomach contents, there was a heavy infestation of different species of hard ticks (Rhipicephallus and Amblyoma species) attached on the inner side of the ear-pinna. These signs were indicative of Anaplasmosis infection, blood smears and tissue samples from different organs such as the liver, heart, spleen, lymph nodes and kidney were collected for further laboratory analysis. The animal seemed to have died of a chronic infection as it had lost the body condition by the time it died.
On 11th/3/07 at 9.00 am we treated an adult male elephant in Masai mara National Reserve just a few kilometers from Talek center. It had a deep penetrating wound on the medial side of the tarsal joint of left front limb. The elephant could barely walk due to extreme pain and swelling of the limb so it decided to remain standing at the edge of a small stream where it could get water and food without walking for long.
The elephant was then revived from anaesthesia, it kept struggling and was clearly finding it difficult to rise up due to the paintful wound so we decided to pull it up using ropes and pulled by a Toyota Landcruiser pick-up, it then managed to rise to his feet after a short struggle.
The prognosis was clearly not good for this animal and chances of recovery were quite slim because of the pain elicited by the wound on the limb that had stayed for some time but we decided to treat and keep monitoring the response which was to determine on whether to repeat the treatment was necessary or if we had to euthanize it..
Zebra case on Kari Farm Naivasha
The next day we proceeded to Naivasha KARI farm to continue treating zebras. The following day on 12th/3/07 while patrolling in the farm we encountered another zebra whose hoof was cut off by a tight wire snare and decided to attend to it, this animal was immobilized by darting from a vehicle and it took about 8 minutes to become recumbent. On physical examination, the zebra had a wound on the right hind limb from where the hoof got detached by the wire snare; this was well treated with debridement using 10% hydrogen peroxide then tincture of iodine applied onto it and oxytetracycline antibiotic spray applied. Long acting 20% oxytetracycline was administered intramuscularly followed by multivitamin and antinflammatory injection. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and released to the wild.
Masai mara lion carcass it was suspected to have eaten a poisoned meat.
A case of sick and dead lions in Masai mara National Reserve, the veterinarian received a phone call from an area called Mararianda just at the periphery of Masai mara National Reserve reporting that they had spotted an adult male lion that appeared weak, staggering and vomiting, they suspected that the animal had eaten a poisoned carcass and called for immediate veterinary attention. When the veterinary team arrived the following day the sick lion could not be found and instead we found a two-day old carcass of a sub-adult male lion. The carcass had been preyed on by hyenas and vultures hence no viable samples could be used for analysis. The other lion could not be seen and the assumption was that it had recovered from poisoning and left the area.
Cheetah case with Mange
This was a case of a male adult cheetah that was in a group of two other sub-adult males, it had marked alopecia with crusty skin and lots of dundruft that could be seen from far. The other two cheetahs also had similar symptoms but to a lesser extent. This skin condition could be either due to mange infestation or fungal infection. The cheetah was then anaesthetized using 100mgs of xylazine hydrochloride combined with 100mgs of ketamine hydrochloride through darting from a vehicle.
Desnaring of two Masai giraffes in
This was a case of two giraffes that got snared in
There was a case of a young zebra that was in a group of many zebras just a few kilometers from Gilgil Toll station, it had no visible wound or foreign material on the limbs but it was seriously limping and could not bear weight on its left front limb. We decided to have the animal restrained so that we could ascertain the type of condition it was. The animal was then immobilized by darting from a vehicle and went recumbent after 5 minutes.
Treatment of a zebra with a bite wound on the front limb in Marula farm.
This animal was found limping and isolated from the rest of the herd, it had a large wound on the left front limb and it had lost body condition. It was anaesthetized by darting from a vehicle after a short chase. The drug took effect after about 6 minutes and the animal became recumbent. The wound was properly debrided using hydrogen peroxide then flushed with tincture of iodine and antibiotic spray applied onto it. Long acting antibiotics and antinflammatory drug was administered then the animal revived from anaesthesia and released.
Prepared by; Dr. Domnic Mijele.