The Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit

Field Report - April 2007

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 Introduction

During the month of April most of the cases attended to were from private ranches around Lake Naivasha. Cases of snared animals are still very common in this area and it might take quite sometime to desnare all the animals. There is need for improved security in these conservation areas to help reduce poaching and animal suffering after escaping with snares or wounds. The other major activity that was conducted by the veterinary team during this month was the translocation of 5 Masai giraffes from Kedong ranch to Marula Estates ranch in Naivasha area, this was done basically to restock Marula ranch. In Lake Nakuru National Park the veterinary team treated a white rhino that sustained head injuries after fighting with another rhino.

 Desnaring of Masai giraffe in Mundui farm.

This was an adult female giraffe that had been sighted with a largely swollen right hind limb. It had been in that state for about two weeks before being reported. It had a wire snare around that limb which was quite tight and had cut deep through the tissues. When the veterinary team arrived to treat it on 3/4/07, it was found and got immobilized through darting using 13mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 30mgs of xylazine hydrochloride. It took about 5 minutes to become recumbent. The wire was cut off using a wire cutter and the deep wound around the limb was treated topically using hydrogen peroxide solution and tincture of iodine. Most of the necrotic tissues around the wound were debrided. The wound was then sprayed with oxytetracycline spray. Antibiotics and antinflammatory drugs were administered intramuscularly to take care of any systemic infection. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and left to join others in the wild. Prognosis was quite favourable after the removal of the foreign material from the wound.

The snared giraffe is darted  cutting the snare with wire cutters

Administering the revival drug  Treating the wound made from the wire snare

GIRAFFE TRANSLOCATION FROM KEDONG TO MARULA ESTATES RANCH

 Introduction and objectives

This work had been planned to take place last year but due to logistical problems it was postponed until early April, 2007. The main objective of moving these giraffes from Kedong ranch to Marula Estates ranch was to help restock Marula with Masai giraffe. The ranch has enough vegetation and water that is suitable for the survival of these animals. Before this translocation Marula had 6 giraffes that were introduced there a few years ago. The group of 5 from Kedong was to increase the number and enhance their breeding capacity inorder to promote the conservation of this species in Southern part of Lake Naivasha. The distance between these two ranches was approximately 25 Kilometers and the giraffes were captured and moved without holding them in a boma.

 Materials and methods

The exercise was carried out during the early morning hours or during the late afternoon when there was less heat. Vehicles were used to locate the herds of giraffes. The right candidate was selected for translocation. Animals aged below 3 years were targeted for this translocation.

 The animals were captured and moved one at a time because only one lorry and a crate were available for this work. Chemical restraint was achieved through darting form a vehicle. The darts were composed of 1.5cc Dan-ject barrels fitted with 2mm x 60mm plain or collared Dan-ject needle. The drugs used were etorphine hydrochloride combined with xylazine hydrochloride in a single dart and their dosages were determined by the size and age of the giraffe. Once the animal was immobilized and went down, the anaesthesia was quickly revived using Diprenorphine hydrochloride combined with Atipamezole hydrochloride administered intravenously through the jugular vein. Physical restrain was then applied using ropes and hands. The animal was then loaded onto the crate which was loaded on the truck and then driven to Marula for free release.

 Blood samples were collected from all the giraffes captured during that time. Blood was collected from the jugular vein and drawn into plain tubes coated with clot retractor substance, so as to obtain serum to be stored for future reference. Tissue samples were also collected from all the giraffes and stored in DMSO solution for genetic studies.

 Results

The exercise took two days and ended after a successful translocation of 5 giraffes, one female giraffe aged 2years died of throat injuries just when it was being released in Marula ranch. Another giraffe was captured to replace the dead one. During the same time we came across a male giraffe that had a tight wire snare on the left hind limb that had caused a large wound and lameness to the animal. This was also captured and treated.

A giraffe being tansported to Marula ranch in Naivasha  a giraffe being loaded onto the crate and transported to Marula ranch in Naivasha

 Itinerary      

 Day 1: 6/04/07

 A male giraffe aged 2 years was captured by darting from a vehicle at about 500 meters from Kedong main office, it was with the mother when it was darted in the morning. This was successfully moved to Marula ranch.

 On the same day we came across a family of 8 Masai giraffes, one had a wire snare on its left hind limb that seemed to have stayed for quite along time. It had difficulty in movement and the limb was greatly swollen and the animal had very poor body condition. From this group two female giraffes were captured and moved to Marula one at a time.

 One of these giraffes sustained injuries to the neck probably while attempting to jump out of the crate and later died release. The postmortem examination revealed injuries to the throat and trachea that led to asphyxia and death of the animal. It was later disposed by deep burying within Marula ranch.

 Day 2: 7/04/07

A young female giraffe aged 1.5 years from the same group of 8 was immobilized and captured then moved to Marula.

 The next giraffe to be captured on that day was a female aged 2.5 years from the same group. It was also successfully moved to Marula and released safely. Thereafter the snared giraffe was immobilized and treated. 

The last animal to be moved was spotted late in the afternoon, it was a 4 year old female that was in a group of three other giraffes. This giraffe was captured by chemical immobilization, loaded onto a crate and moved to Marula. The exercise ended successfully with one mortality. The rest of the animals were released in an area with enough water and feed and they have started adapting to the area.

 Data of Masai giraffes translocated from Kedong Ranch to Marula Estates Naivasha.

Date

Species

ID

Sex

Age

Immobilization drugs & dosages.

Comment

 

6/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 1

 

Male

 

2 yrs

8mgs Etorphine, 25mgs Xylazine.

 

Successfully moved.

 

6/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 2

 

Female

 

2.5 yrs

8mgs Etorphine, 25mgs Xylazine.

Died of asphyxiation at release time.

 

6/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 3

 

Female

 

2.5 yrs

8mgs Etorphine, 25mgs Xylazine.

 

Successfully moved.

 

7/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 4

 

Female

 

1.5 yrs

5mgs Etorphine, 25mgs Xylazine.

 

Successfully moved.

 

7/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 5

 

Female

 

2.5 yrs

8mgs Etorphine, 25mgs Xylazine.

 

Successfully moved.

 

 

7/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 6

 

Female

 

3.5 yrs

10mgs Etorphine, 30mgs Xylazine.

Desnared and treated for snare wound. Not translocated.

 

7/04/07

 

Masai Giraffe

 

GF 7

 

Female

 

4 yrs

10mgs Etorphine, 30mgs Xylazine.

 

Successfully moved.

 Capture and relocation of a Waterbuck from Oljororwa flower farm to KWS Annex sanctuary in Naivasha.

It was reported from Oljororwa flower farm to KWS Warden in Naivasha station that there was a male waterbuck that accidentally got into the farm possibly at night and was unable to find its way out. The animal was in a stressful situation and was seen struggling to jump or force its way through the electric fences inflicting serious injuries on the head and neck regions. The warden therefore requested the veterinary team to try and rescue the animal and relocate it to its original home.

The animal was in a tightly fenced area with a lot of thick vegetation and it was not even easy to locate it for capture. It took us a long time before finding it. When we finally found it we decided to immobilize it and use the pick –up for transport. The animal was then followed on foot and darted using Palmer Cap-chur dart gun just as it was attempting to take off. The drugs used for immobilization was 7mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 20mgs of xylazine hydrochloride. It took about 6 minutes to become recumbent. It was quickly loaded onto the pick-up and driven to KWS Annex Sanctuary about 3Kms away then revived from anaesthesia and left to join others. 

Waterbuck being lifted to a pick-up.  Later revived at KWS Annex Sanctuary

A case of dystocia (difficult calving) in a Hartebeest in Marula ranch.

This case was reported to the veterinarian from the manager of Marula Estates ranch. A Hartebeest was seen with a fetus hanging from the vulva. They confirmed that it was a case of difficult calving and assistance was sought from the veterinary team. The animal was then immobilized after a short chase and it became recumbent after a few minutes. On closer observation the fetus was already dead and was getting decomposed, it was not easy for the animal to deliver successfully because the fetus had presented itself with bent cubital joints of both the front limbs and the fetus was relatively large hence it could not pass through the birth canal. 

Through hand manipulations and traction using hands and ropes we managed to pull out the calf successfully without injuring the dam, the uterus was then flushed with a mild solution of iodine then treated with long acting antibiotics and multivitamins and revived from anaesthesia. It took about 15 minutes to rise up because of pain and injuries it sustained. It was then liberally dowsed with water and put under shade to recover. Later on it rose up and joined others that were nearby. Prognosis was good because it had not sustained injuries in the uterus and pelvic cavity.

Traction of a Hartebeest fetus  release of the Hartebeest after managing dystocia

 

Treatment of a wounded White rhino in Lake Nakuru National Park on 18/04/07.

This was a case of White rhinos that fought in Lake Nakuru National Park. This was probably a territorial fight. The rhino was identified as Mpila David, an adult male rhino identification number 50W14 (Ear notched 21) and it is one of the rhinos that originated from South Africa. It was suspected to have had a territorial fight with another male rhino called Sarova, identification number 50W31.

The animal sustained a very deep wound on the frontal surface between the left eye and the caudal horn. The wound had a lot of haemorrhage. The animal was reported to have stayed away from its usual territory. When the veterinary team arrived in the evening it was late and darkness had set in and hence the animal could not be treated. Fortunately, the haemorrhage had stopped and the animal looked strong and stable so we waited for the following day.

On the next day it was found just in the same area where it was before and it was darted on the left shoulder, unfortunately the immobilization drug did not discharge from the dart. The animal then went for quite some distance and disappeared without having any drug effect. It took us several hours trying to relocate it for treatment. We later found it grazing at the lake shore and it got darted for the second time and the drug took effect after 5 minutes. The rhino was then quickly blindfolded and dowsed with a lot of water.

The wound was already contaminated that it could not be sutured, so it was chemically debrided using hydrogen peroxide solution and tincture of iodine applied. It was also treated with enough doses of antibiotics and the wound sprayed with oxytetracycline spray to keep off flies and maggots from the wound.

The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and released. The chances of recovery are high because the wound was treated before it became septic and the injury did not extend into the inner tissues.

A White rhino, Mpila David, ID 50W14 having been darted  A White rhino, Mpila David, ID 50W14 being treated

The treated White rhino after the revival drug is administered  after treatment in Lake Nakuru

 Treatment of two giraffes in Kongoni Ranch Naivasha  

These cases were reported by the ranch manager who wanted the animals to be attended to.

On 28/04/07, an adult male giraffe was desnared. It had a wire snare around the right hind limb proximal to the hoof. It was immobilized by darting on the right shoulder and the drug took 6 minutes to effect, it was then assisted to come down using ropes. The wire had not caused any wound on the limb hence it was just cut off and the animal revived from anaesthesia. 

Another giraffe was treated for hoof swelling and overgrowth in Kongoni farm on the same day. This was an adult female giraffe that was found limping and had a lot of difficulties in movement because of the hoof overgrowth that kept dragging on the ground and was irritating when it was walking. This kept irritating this giraffe and it had lost much of its body condition. The corium was swollen due to this irritation and it kept bleeding.

The animal was darted on the left shoulder and the drug took effect after a few minutes then it was assisted to become recumbent by roping. The hoof was then trimmed using a hacksaw and the wounded corium treated by tincture of iodine. Antibiotic drug was also administered parenterally through intramuscular route. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and joined others, the chances of recovery are good.

A young male giraffe is darted with a wire snare on his hind leg  The snare is cut with wire cutters from the hind leg

The giraffe back on his feet the snare having been removed

The young giraffe before the toenail was removed  A close up of the overgrown toenail

sawing the toe nail back to a normal size  The giraffe joins a group of others on the lake sure

 Return of a giraffe that jumped out of the fence in Marula ranch.

It was reported that one of the giraffes that was previously translocated from Kedong had escaped from the secured area by jumping over the fence. This prompted the veterinary team to act fast and return the animal because it was now staying in unsecured place where its movement could not be monitored and it was stressed because other giraffes remained inside the fenced area.

 The first attempt to take it back by opening the gate and trying to direct it in failed after the animal refused to enter through the gate as it was expected. We decided to let it rest then relocate it back the following day. The next day it was found after searching for a long time, then it got immobilized through darting using 12mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 30mgs of xylazine hydrochloride, it was darted on the right shoulder and took 5 minutes to become recumbent. It was then revived from anaesthesia immediately and we continued with physical restrain by ropes and hands. The animal was successfully loaded and driven back to the secured area where it was before. The ranch manager was instructed to reinforce section of the fence through which the animal escaped to avoid such an incident occurring next time. 

Capture and loading of the giraffe to be relocated to the Marula sanctuary  The Marula escaped giraffe

Conclusion

The Central Rift Veterinary mobile clinic tries as much as possible to alleviate wildlife suffering due to injuries caused by poaching, snaring and other natural causes such as territorial fights. This objective has been greatly achieved during the last two months and most animals have been rescued in different areas. The number of snared animal cases is expected to go down due to the frequent patrols by the veterinary team and monitoring the health status of wild animals in all the National Parks, National Reserves and Private ranches in Central Rift region.