Published on the 20th of March, 2018
FIELD VETERINARY REPORT FOR SOUTHERN CONSERVATION AREA MOBILE VETERINARY UNIT FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH; 2018
Reported by Ndambiri Ephantus
There has been a dramatic change within the Amboseli Ecosystem over the past month. The environment has been transformed from dry dusty earth to wet, green and blossoming vegetation. Heavy rains began at the start of the month and continued throughout causing rapid regeneration of vegetation. As Amboseli National Park is a basin, it has been flooded the whole month which has made it difficult for wildlife to access all the new growth. Wild populations are therefore at their lowest within the Park as they seek shelter on raised ground, found in the surrounding Community Conservancies.
The following are veterinary activities attended to during the month;
CASE#1: STUCK BUFFALO
Location: Amboseli National Park
A buffalo in distress was seen at the Iremito causeway within Amboseli National Park. It was stuck in mud. The Vet Unit was informed of the incident by the Park Security Team whilst on their usual patrol duties. An intervention was immediately mounted.
This old rogue buffalo was alert and on sternal recumbence close to the road. It was urged to move by probing and pulling its’ tail but it was unable to free itself from the mud. It was evident that it had attempted to get out for quite some time. The vet unit anchored one end of a rope to the vehicle and looped the other end around the horns, which was done by throwing the rope from the roadside. The rope looped around the base of the right horn and it was assumed that it would be enough for the pull. Once free from the mud, the vet unit planned to quickly release the rope attached to the vehicle to avoid using immobilizing drugs.
Once everything was set, the vehicle was given a go ahead and the animal was pulled to the dry road edge while on left lateral recumbence. The rope was quickly released from the vehicle but the animal remained on lateral recumbence allowing the vet to remove the rope from the horn. The buffalo was then pushed onto sternal recumbence whilst groaning in protest at our presence. It tried to get up but the left hind limb seemed to have suffered severe numbness and couldn’t support the weight in the full upright position. We left it alone to avoid unnecessary stress on the animal. The security team were instructed to visit after one hour and report on the buffalos condition and when they went to check on the bull, it had already gone on its’ way.
The effect of old age gives this old bull a guarded prognosis.
CASE # 2; Elephant Treatment
Species: Loxodonta africana
Location: Marba; Amboseli Ecosystem
This particular elephant was treated for the first time by Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit on 06/03/2018 for lameness due to a spear injury to the left hind limb via DSWT Sky Vet Initiative. The elephant had remained within the same area since initial treatment and a review was important to establish the extent of recovery and retreat the elephant. The Amboseli Vet Unit had reported back from leave the previous day and took charge of the exercise. The Big Life Foundation Security Manager had reported the case and the DSWT chopper was called in to assist with the treatment. The initial report was to attend to three injured elephants one at Marba, second at Eselenkei and third at Kimana Sanctuary. We met the chopper at Amboseli HQ and planned to attend to the Marba one first whilst the ground team at Eselenkei searched for the second.
The elephant was found in the company of the three other elephants, browsing within an open savannah. The chopper landed some distance away. The candidate exhibited serious lameness of the left hind limb which had an open swollen wound at the ankle. Two vehicles were on site; one for Big Life and the other for Amboseli Park.
Immobilization, examination and treatment
Two darts were used on the candidate. The first dart constituting of 18mgs Etorphine landed on the left mid humeral area medially as the elephant was adamant to face away from the approaching vehicle. It was startled but due to the severity of lameness it could not go far. Unfortunately after fifteen minutes post darting there was no impending signs of sedation necessitating another darting. This time another dart of same composition was placed on the left rump laterally. This resulted in standing immobilization after another fifteen minutes. The candidate was approached from behind and two men pulled the elephant into a dog sitting position then with a strap on the left tusk it was pulled by the vehicle onto right lateral recumbence exposing the injured limb for retreatment.
The swollen wound was examined for any foreign object by inserting forceps. The wound was about fifteen centimeters deep and entered into the joint cavity. There was no pus expressed instead blood oozed out showing eminence healing signs. It was cleaned using Hydrogen Peroxide and Tincture of Iodine then covered with green wet clay to encourage tissue regeneration. Topically it was sprayed with Tetracycline wound spray liberally. Systemically it was injected with 3000mgs Clindamycin, followed by 250mgs Flunixin Meglumine and 100ml Multivitamin into the muscles.
Immobilization was reversed using 60mgs Diprenorphine injected into the ear vein after instructing all personnel to get to their vehicles and keep a safe distance. The animal was revived completely in three minutes and exhibited no struggle whilst getting up. It limped away slowly. Monitoring will continue and if possible review after three weeks.
Prognosis is guarded because of the involvement of the joint. This can be revised later after monitoring and examining the extent of lameness.
CASE # 3; Elephant Treatment
Species: Loxodonta africana
Location: Olong’elu Area; Eselenkei Conservancy
After treating the first elephant scheduled for the day, we went to find the other at Eselenkei. By this time the Big Life ground team had already issued the GPS Coordinate of the possible location of the candidate. It was about 35 kilometers aerial distance. The location was very wet and the car could not find its way through so we attended with the DSWT chopper. The candidate was suspected to have a spear wound to the chest that needed clinical intervention.
On the ground we spotted the Big Life ground team and they showed us the way the elephant had gone. We searched in vain for it but we were forced to land and reassess. After further guidance we went in the air again and we spotted the elephant about 800 meters away. It kept walking calmly even after seeing the chopper. We examined it keenly as it walked and browsed and established it had no condition necessitating any clinical intervention. There was no lameness observed, no swelling, no discharge or favouring of any limb. We came to the conclusion that the ground team was on the track of the wrong candidate.
We landed again and had a word with the ground team. They confirmed that they had not seen any injury on the animal and only were suspecting that it was not feeling well as it was all alone within the entire region. We instructed them to be on look out for the injured candidate if any and report after verifying that there is need for clinical intervention. We left for Amboseli Park Headquarters. At the Headquarters the Big Life Security Manager confirmed that the Kimana elephant needed some more monitoring and that it could be reviewed later.
The DSWT chopper was released and returned to Kaluku HQ.
CASE# 4; Patrol Within Amboseli National Park
Location: Amboseli National Park
Amboseli has in the past one month received heavy rainfall just as the rest of the country. The rain has resulted in vegetation regrowth replenishing the forage for the wildlife.
We carried a routine patrol of the park. Predominantly was the absence of the usual large populations of wildlife especially the big herbivores within the wet swampy areas. Instead the area remained virtually empty as much of the park remains heavily flooded. Animals have taken refuge within the surrounding conservancies which are high in altitude and well drained. There is readily and plenty of browse thus they are comfortable within those areas.
Roads within the park are heavily affected by the rains and some sections of road were rendered impassable. A few elephants were spotted in the drier areas especially near Kimana gate which is usually home for large rogue bulls.
The Unit would like to express its gratitude for the assistance granted to it. The enormous support of DSWT with tools and equipment cannot be over emphasized. Many thanks to KWS within the operation areas combined with community conservancies, NGOs and well-wishers. The team work expressed is just impeccable.