THE AMBOSELI MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT
REPORT FOR - September 2018

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VETERINARY REPORT FOR THE SOUTHERN CONSERVATION AREA - AMBOSELI MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT (AMVU) - SEPTEMBER 2018

Report by:

Dr. Edward Kariuki 

Veterinary Services Department

Kenya Wildlife Service

Summary

Sixteen (16) wildlife cases were reported and attended to by the Amboseli Mobile Veterinary Unit during the month of September 2018. Six (6) received therapeutic treatment while two (an elephant calf and hyena) were postmortem examination. Its the observation of the unit that any carcasse that took 24 hours to be examined was always scavenged. This is due to the stable and vicious population of hyenas and vultures in the park. Additionaly, the park provides for quick visibility of the carcases due to the low height of the natural grassland and the few shrubs available. Six elephants were consindered for further monitoring while a girrafe and a zebra could not be treated due to the thick bush in which they were found. Attempts to drive the girrafe out for treatment took 2 vehicles and an aircraft 4 hours with no successs. A record, description and observations of all seven (7) cases follows in the subsequent pages of the report.

CLINICAL DESCRIPTION OF ATTENDED CASES

CASE#1 TREATMENT OF A SNARED ELEPHANT

Date: 8 September 2018.

Species: African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana)

Age: 5 years old (sub-adult)

Sex: Male

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

The Veterinary Unit received a report from Ol-Tukai Lodge and the Amboseli Trust for Elephants of an elephant with a wire on the left hind leg. The first report was received on the 7th of September by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, whilst the second report was received from staff at the Ol-Tukai Lodge on the 8th of September.

The young male elephant seen with his herd  The young male elephant seen on his own

Immobilization, examination and treatment

Researchers at the Amboseli Trust for Elephants followed and traced the herd through the palm bushes in order to ensure treatment. The young elephant was located and darted from a vehicle. Chemical restraint was attained using Etorphine Hcl (total dose 14mgs). The elephant reached recumbent anesthesia 10 minutes after darting. He was rested on lateral recumbency to facilitate wire removal and prevent respiratory complications. A second vehicle chased away the herd in order to ensure the safety of the Vet Team during the treatment of the young male. The wire was loose and had caused no damage to the leg. The wire was easily removed by cutting it off with wire cutters, and 50ml of Amoxicillin (Betamox LA®) was administered to prevent secondary infection through the darting wound.

The Vet Team attempting to cut the wire snare with wire cutters  The Vet Team cutting the snare with wire cutters

The Vet Team removing the wire  The wire clearly seen being pulled loose

Reversal and prognosis

Anaesthesia was reversed intravenously using Diprenorphine. Prognosis for full recovery was good as there were no complications due to the wire.

The Vet Team administered 50ml of Amoxicillin (Betamox LAź)  The young male elephant standing post-treatment

CASE#2 TREATMENT OF A LAME ZEBRA

Date: 13 September 2018.

Species: Common Zebra (Equus gauga)

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

Noah, a KWS driver, sighted and reported the lame zebra whilst on patrol.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was located and darted from a vehicle. A cocktail of 4mg Etorphine Hcl and 60 mg Azaperone was used to immobilize the zebra. Successful immobilization and lateral recumbency was attained 7 minutes after darting. The left fore leg was dislocated as felt by palpation and joint movement. Flunixin meglumin and Betamox LA®, Amoxicillin was administered to prevent pain and infection due to the fracture.

The zebra running after being darted  The Vet Team examining the zebra's swollen left front leg

The Vet Team manoeuvering the zebra's leg   The Vet Team feeling what appears to be a dislocated leg

Reversal and prognosis

The aneasthesia was reversed using 2ml of Diprenorphine, which was adeministered intravenously. Prognosis for full recovery is fair since the animal could be easy prey for lions and hyenas.

The Vet Team splashing water on the zebra to call her down  The zebra awake post-treatment, given a fair prognosis

CASE#3 TREATMENT OF A ZEBRA WITH FORE LEG FRACTURE

Date: 23 September 2018.

Species: Common Zebra (Equus gauga)

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Osoit, Namelok area

History

Big Life Rangers reported an injured zebra to the Amboseli Veterinary Unit on the 23rd of September 2018. The zebra was located at a rocky area referred to as Osoit (the local vernacular name for rocks) in Namelok.  The injuries on the zebra followed a severe territorial fight between two males.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was found lying down and not willing to move away even once in sight of people. However, it had to be chemicaly restrained to prevent struggling during examination. The zebra was darted on foot. A cocktail of 4mg Etorphine Hcl and 60 mg Azaperone immobilized the male to attain complete restraint 5 minutes after darting. The stallion rested on lateral recumbency during the examination. The right foreleg was completely fractured while the body had multiple deep bite wounds.

The zebra was found lying down  The right foreleg was completely fractured

Prognosis

The prognosis was poor since the zebra could not walk and lay down in pain. 15ml of Pentobarbitone 20% (Etha-naze®) euthanized the animal to stop the adverse suffering.

CASE#4 TREATMENT OF A SNARED ZEBRA

Date: 25 September 2018.

Species: Zebra (Equus gauga)

Age: Adult

Sex: Female

Location: Manyani Law Enforcement Academy

History

The Vet Team received a report of a common zebra with a snare wire round the neck on the 25th of  September 2018. The zebra was found grazing at the periphery of Manyani Airstrip in a group of five other zebras.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The zebra was located and darted from a vehicle. Etorphine Hcl (total dose 5mg) and 60mg Azaperone were used to immobilize the female zebra. Successful restraint and lateral recumbency was attained 8 minutes after darting. The snare wire was loose and easy to remove. The wire snare was one that is normally used for in poaching attempts. Betamox LA®, Amoxicillin was administered to prevent secondary bacterial infection via the darting wound.

The zebra spotted with snare around its neck  The Vet Team approaching the zebra once darted

A closer look at the snare around the zebra's neck  The zebra post-treatment with snare removed

Reversal and prognosis

Diprenorphine was used to reverse the aneasthsia. Prognosis for full recovery is good since the wire had not inflicted any injury nor was there any complication.

CASE#5 A CASE OF AN INJURED ELEPHANT

Date: 26 September 2018.

Species: Elephant, Loxodonta africana

Age: Adult

Sex: Male

Location: Tsavo West National Park

History

The DSWT Mobile Vet Team reported and attended to an elephant bull in Tsavo West, with a wound on his trunk, on the 26th of September 2018.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The elephant was located and darted from a chopper. Etorphine Hcl (total dose of 20 mg) was used to immobilize the male elephant. Full restraint was attained 12 minutes after darting. The bull fell on sternal recumbency and had to be pulled down with ropes to lateral recumbency. A deep wound was observed, penetrating into the upper part of the trunk. The wound was so deep that two foot long forceps could go through. The wound depth runs in a direction and that could help explain a probable tusk injury after a bullfight. The bull was administered 100ml Amoxicillin (Betamox LA®) to prevent bacterial infection. Green clay paste was injected into the wound to facilitate healing and prevent infection.

The elephant once he had been darted   The elephant bull once darted falling on sternal recumbency

A deep wound was observed, penetrating into the upper part of the trunk  The bull was pulled down with ropes to lateral recumbency

Reversal and prognosis

Aneasthesia was reversed using Diprenorphine. Prognosis for full recovery is good.

The bull had an old wound   The bull starting to get up post-treatment

CASE#6 TREATMENT OF LAME BLACK RHINO

Date: 28 September 2018.

Species: Black rhino, diceros michaeli

Age: adult

Sex: Male

Location: Ngulia, sanctuary, Tsavo West National Park

History

A lame rhino was reported by KWS Rangers after the case was noted during the Night Rhino Night census.

Immobilization, examination and treatment

The rhino was located and darted from a chopper. A cocktail of 4mg Etorphine Hcl and 70 mg Azaperone was used to immobilize the male. The drug was delivered using a projectile dart and the animal was successfully restrained 10 minutes after darting.  The rhino was examined whilst on sternal recumbency.Upon physical examination it was found that the rhino had an old healed injury. The old injury healed with a deformity that led to abnormal posture while walking. The rhino was in good body condition and had no other complications due to the injury apart from the abnormal walking posture. Betamox LA®, Amoxicillin was administered to prevent secondary infections.

The rhino once fully sedated being checked by the Vet Team  The Vet Team examining the old wound

Reversal and prognosis

Butorphanol (10mg) was used to stabilize anaesthesia, while Diprenorphine (12mg) was used to reverse aneasthesia.

CASE#7 POST MORTEM EXAMINATION OF AN ELEPHANT CALF

Date: 29 September 2018.

Species: African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Age: 5months calf

Sex: Female

Location: Amboseli National Park

History

The female elephant calf was born of a twin with a male calf. The calf died on the 28th of September 2018 at about 3.30 pm. The mother (Paru) and the twin male are healthy and well.

Examination and findings

The carcass was scavenged by hyenas and vultures during the night, before the 29th of September 2018 when the postmortem was done. The carcass remains were not enough to conduct a full pathological examination and analysis. However, the skeleton was good enough to demonstrate that the backline wound was not beyond the skin

Cause of death

Unclear and deficient. However, the amount of milk a lactating female can produce, current feed availability and the aggressive feeding behavior of the twin male, could assist in explaining the natural rarity and low survival of such births.

The carcass after it had been scavenged

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

An elephant calf reported to be dragging one foot, had an old injury that completely affected the joints. The old injury healed with a swelling that reduced joint mobility. The elephant was healthy and had no wound or any visible foreign material, like a snare. The elephant was not desperate for treatment and was acquitted the stress of darting.

Four elephants were reported with wobbling walking gait. One calf was almost unable to move. Among the four cases, the calves were more affected than the adults. Monitoring was prescribed after a history of such periodical cases was observed by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

A dead hyena requiring a postmortem examination was reported by the KWS Patrol Team. The carcass was old and eviscerated thereby lacking enough material for a comprehensive pathological examination.

An elephant (named Jackson) was reported with a sagging abdominal swelling. The swelling later to be determined as a hernia is complicated for a surgical intervention which is the ideal treatment. Jackson’s normal feeding area is in the marshy pools and a surgical wound is prone to an immeasurable challenge of secondary bacterial infection. The elephant is under monitoring for future intervention in case of health deterioration. So far the elephant has dealt with and adapted to living with the condition. Jackson is about 35 years old.

A giraffe and a grevy zebra at Rukinga Ranch could not be traced for darting and treatment. However, monitoring is ongoing for treatment in the future.

Acknowledgment

We thank the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) for material support and Mobile Unit funding, KWS for logistical support and security. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Kitirua Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Works and Big Life Ndovu TZ for reporting and monitoring of distressed wild animals. We are always indebted, thank you for your kind support in the conservation of wildlife in Kenya.

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