Masai Mara Conservation Area Veterinary Field Report- February 2014
Reported by Dr.Campaign K. Limo
The month was characterized by moderate precipitation which was conducive for regeneration of pastures. Consequently, most of the conservation areas have lush grass and the animals have plenty of forage and are generally in good condition.
Interventions carried out during the month are as follows:
CASE #1 POST MORTEM OF A MALE ELEPHANT
Date: 6 February 2014
Age: Adult (about 25-30yrs)
Location: Masai Mara National Reserve (near acacia camp)
GPS coordinates 36M 0764897, UTM 9823484
This elephant was discovered a few days after death, by a KWS patrol team, with both tusks missing. They requested our services to determine the cause of death.
The carcass was about seven days old and was found lying on the right lateral position already putrefied and scavenged upon. Maggots had infested the carcass and most body parts were dismembered. The elephant appeared to have been in good body condition before death.
Closer examination revealed a deep sharp edged wound about 2 inches in diameter on the left flank. This was a penetrating wound suspected to have been caused by spearing right into the peritoneum. Both tusks were missing with clear indications they were crudely removed.
Based on history, postmortem picture and the missing tusks, this elephant died of injuries sustained through spearing. The depth of the wound could have led to peritonitis. The circumstances highly suggest poaching as the motive behind the death0 of this elephant.
CASE #2 DE-SNARING OF A LIONESS
Date: 6th February 2014
Location: Naboisho Conservancy
This lioness was spotted one week prior to intervention by Naboisho Conservancy Rangers. However, she was shy and disappeared for a whole week before re-emerging with the snare tight around her neck.
Immobilization and removal of snare:
A combination of 4mg Medetomidine Hcl and 260mg Ketamine Hcl was delivered using a 3ml Dan Inject dart from a vehicle. The lioness had briefly moved to an open area which allowed for an accurate darting and the drugs took effect within 4 minutes. The lioness appeared not to have had any food for the past couple of days. The barbed wire snare around her neck was cut and removed. Though tight, no severe wounds had been caused by the wire. Topical wound spray was applied to the abrasions. In addition, 3000 mg of Amoxycillin antibiotic was given intramuscularly for prophylaxis. 10mg Ivermectin was also given subcutaneously against endo and ecto parasites. Eye ointment was applied during anesthesia to prevent corneal desiccation in addition to blind folding.
Reversal was achieved by giving 15mg Atipamizole intramuscularly, 1 hour after immobilization. The lioness woke up after 10mins and strode into the nearby bush without complications.
CASE #3 FIGHT WOUNDS ON A LIONESS
Date: 7th February 2014
Location: Governor’s Camp
Age: Young adult
Tour guides from Governor’s camp called to report having seen this lioness lethargic and with obvious injuries on the face and loin area. This is a member of the famous Marsh Pride and the team responded immediately.
Immobilization, examination and treatment:
This lioness was in a pride of more than 10 other lions, all being members of the Marsh Pride. Immobilization was achieved by administration of a combination of 3mg Medetomidine Hcl and 200mg Ketamine Hcl. This was delivered through a Dan Inject dart delivery system from a vehicle and full anesthesia was achieved after seven minutes. Other members of the pride were scared off by vehicles in order to give room for the injured lioness to be attended to.
Examination revealed the following:
All the wounds were copiously lavaged with clean water, cleaned with sterile swabs and Lugols Iodine applied. In addition, Oxytetracycline spray was also applied to the wounds. Sub-conjuctival injection of 16mg Dexamethasone Sodium anti-inflammatory and 3000mg Amoxycillin antibiotic was administered to the left eye. Opticlox eye ointment was applied to both eyes and other wounds. 6mg Ivermectin was given subcutaneously against ecto and endo parasites.
This was achieved by administration of 15 mg Atipamizole 1hr after immobilization. The lion recovered after 10mins and went to join other members of the pride.
CASE #4 POSTMORTEM OF A MALE ELEPHANT
Date: 9th February 2014
Age: Adult (about 25-30yrs)
Location: Masai Mara National Reserve
GPS coordinates 36M 0756770, UTM 9832904
The case was reported to the unit by the Mara Game Rangers. They found the elephant dead with both tusks intact but could not see any physical injury. They requested our services to determine cause of death.
The carcass was found lying on the right lateral position, bloated and relatively fresh. No injury was evident on the left side of this elephant. The carcass had to be turned over to ascertain the status of the other side. This revealed a penetrating wound 3inches in diameter on the right flank. The tusks were intact. The carcass was less than 24 hours old and appeared to have been in good condition before death.
The wound on the right flank had pierced the peritoneal cavity, rupturing the bowels causing severe peritonitis. The peritoneal cavity was contaminated. The Tusks were retrieved and handed over to the Masai Mara management for safe custody.
Postmortem examination showed the elephant died of acute peritonitis as a result of spearing.
CASE #5 POSTMORTEM OF A MALE ELEPHANT.
Date: 10 February 2014
Age: Adult (about 25-30yrs)
Location: Naboisho conservancy
GPS coordinates 36M 0767095, UTM 9842934
This case was reported to the unit by KWS Patrol Rangers who requested our services to determine the cause of death.
The estimated time of death was 12 hours prior to discovery. The carcass was fresh and lying on the left lateral side. The ventral abdominal wall had been torn by scavengers. The carcass revealed signs of prolonged debility before death. The right tusk was rudimentary while the left one was fully developed. No visible injury was evident on the right side. However, turning the carcass revealed a penetrating wound, about 3 inches in diameter, on the left side.
The wound had sharp edges piercing both large and small intestines creating a fistula through the abdominal wall where ingested material was seeping out. The age of the wound was approximately six days.
The postmortem examination shows that this elephant died of chronic peritonitis as a result of suspected spearing. Tusks were retrieved and handed over to KWS security for safe custody.
CASE #6 DE-TUSKING OF A FEMALE ELEPHANT
Date: 13th February 2014
Location: Mara Conservancy
Mara Conservancy management were concerned about the future of this elephant as her tusks had grown backwards and were entangled. The backward growth had been observed for the last five years but it was beginning to impinge on the ventral lip; it was also limiting trunk movement and could compromise the ability of this elephant to feed.
Immobilization and de-tusking:
16mg of Etorphine was remotely delivered through Dan Inject darting system from a vehicle and the elephant was immobilized in 5 minutes. Other family members were scared away using vehicles, to allow the team to attend to this elephant. Both tusks were trimmed to comfortable sizes by use of a power saw. The entire procedure took about 15mins. The tusks were handed over to the Mara Conservancy Security for accounting and onward transmission to KWS Transmara Station.
48mg Diprenorphine was administered through the ear vein and the elephant woke up after 2 minutes and joined the herd.
CASE #7 INJURED LIONESS
Date: 14th February 2014
Location: Governors’ camp
Masai Mara Reserve Rangers reported seeing this member of Marsh Pride isolated, unwilling to move with fresh bleeding injuries. They considered it an emergency and requested our immediate attention.
The lioness appeared shy and restless but obviously in pain. Trails of fresh blood could be observed whenever it moved.
Immobilization and treatment:
Immobilization was achieved by use of 4mg Medetomidine Hcl and 240mg Ketamine Hcl in a 3ml Dan Inject dart. It took 7 minutes for full anesthesia to be achieved. After the lioness had succumbed she was placed in a comfortable lying position with a blindfold and Opticlox ointment on her eyes. On examination there were deep, sharp edged fresh wounds on the inner side of both thighs. Another wound was also found on the lateral surface of the left thigh. They appeared to have been caused by a spear. The wound on the inner right thigh was the deepest and was bleeding heavily. All areas around the wounds were shaved, cleaned and disinfected with surgical spirit. Bleeders on the right thigh were ligated with a No.2 chromic catgut suture. Dead tissue on the wounds was obliterated by applying deep and subcutaneous sutures using absorbable No.2 chromic catgut sutures. Lugols Iodine was applied to the wounds and a simple interrupted suture pattern with No.2 chromic catgut was used to close the skin, leaving space for drainage. Oxytetracycline antibiotic spray was applied on all wounds. 3000 mg Amoxycillin antibiotic was given intramuscularly as well as 7mg of Ivermectin subcutaneously against parasites.
15mg Atipamizole was given intramuscularly one hour after immobilization. The lioness woke up after 10 minutes and joined the other members of the Marsh Pride.
CASE #8 INJURED ELEPHANT
Date: 19th February 2014
Location: Observation point Masai Mara National Reserve
Masai Mara Game Rangers came across this elephant while doing their normal patrols and immediately notified the mobile veterinary unit.
This male elephant was in a herd of seven elephants. He appeared lethargic with observable injuries on his withers and right upper thorax. The elephant was in a fair body condition.
Immobilization, examination and treatment:
15mg Etorphine in a 3ml Dan inject dart was remotely delivered through Dan Inject darting system from a vehicle and full immobilization was achieved after 5 minutes.
Close examination revealed a deep wound on the upper thorax about 9 inches deep and 5 inches wide. This wound was caudo-cranially directed. The wound on the withers was shallow and about 7 inches wide. Both wounds had sharp edges and were septic. The wounds appeared to have been inflicted by a sharp object. All the wounds were lavaged with copious amounts of water, debrided with hydrogen peroxide to remove necrotic debris with the help of sterile swabs. Lugols Iodine was applied to disinfect the wounds and then they were all covered with green clay. In addition 15000mg Amoxycillin antibiotic with 100mg Dexamethasone sodium anti-inflammatory were given intramuscularly. 20mg Ivermectin was also administered subcutaneously against parasites.
This was achieved by administration of 48mg Diprenorphine intravenously through the ear vein. The elephant woke up after two minutes.
CASE #9 POSTMORTEM OF A FEMALE ELEPHANT
Date: 20th February 2014
Location: 36M 0754418 UTM 9840984(Naboisho conservancy)
This case was reported to the unit by KWS security patrol team who requested our services to determine cause of death.
The elephant appeared to have been in good body condition with a body score of 4 on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is poor and 5 is perfect. No physical injuries were observed. There was a swelling on the inner surface of the left pinnae suggestive of a long standing fibroma.
This elephant had a fully developed fetus which appeared engaged. The cervix was partially dilated with a cervical plug partly dissolved. The fetus either died in-utero or during the birthing process. No other unexplained pathological changes were observed in other organs.
This female could have died due to complications associated with intra uterine fetal death (IUFD) or prolonged fatigue during the birthing process.
CASE #10 TREATMENT AND POSTMORTEM OF MALE ELEPHANT
Date: 22nd February 2014
Location: Naboisho conservancy
This elephant was seen the same day of intervention, very weak and standing close to a watering point. It had a big wound laterally at the level of right scapular. The Mobile Vet Unit was called by the management of the conservancy to go and assess.
The elephant appeared too weak and disinclined to move. It had lost much of its body condition and the wound was visible.
Immobilization examination and treatment:
Immobilization was achieved by giving 15mg Etorphine through Dan Inject darting system on foot. The elephant was immobilized in 5 minutes. Further examination revealed the wound was septic and maggot infested. The wound appeared to have been caused by a spear. The elephant was severely dehydrated; characterized by sunken eyeballs and collapsed blood vessels. The mucous membranes were pale, suggestive of anemia. The wound was copiously lavaged with water and hydrogen peroxide was used to debride before Lugols Iodine applied. In addition green clay was used to cover the wound. 15000mg Amoxycillin was given intramuscularly as well as 20mg Ivermectin subcutaneously to take care of the maggots.
48 mg Diprenorphine was given through the ear vein but the elephant did not wake up despite assistance. It died soon afterwards and the postmortem examination showed severe anemia. There were also signs of liver damage with evidence of jaundice in most tissues.
This elephant died of complications from the wound. Organs including the liver could have been damaged by suspected poison from the spear. Tusks were retrieved and given to Naboisho conservancy for accounting and transmission to KWS.
The Mara mobile veterinary unit is grateful to all individuals who played a role in the reporting of cases that needed veterinary intervention and follow up of these cases for the good of conservation. Many thanks to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service for their continued support to the unit which has seen many wildlife rescues achieved and unnecessary wildlife suffering alleviated.