During the month of September there were a high number of wildebeest deaths along Mara river as they attempt to cross the river during migration period.
The management of Mara triangle conservancy has tried to stop the wildebeests from crossing the river at certain deep points. This has helped to reduce the wildebeest mortalities along that river. Most of the carcasses have been consumed by scavengers such as hyenas and vultures but the river is still very much polluted especially near the Mara Bridge.
Skin disease in cheetahs and other wildlife species such as buffaloes and Thompson’s gazelle is still a challenge which the veterinary unit in Mara has dealt with.
There have been cases of injuries in buffaloes, lions and zebras which have been treated successfully.
The unit has set up a small laboratory in the Mara research station that will help in making diagnosis in cases of infectious conditions and enhance research in animal diseases, but still the lab requires a laboratory technologist, few more equipment and protective clothing which have been identified.
Rescue of a zebra foal
The young zebra was found near Oloontoto primary school and reported to the warden Narok station. It was later rescued by KWS rangers who brought it to Narok station. It was bottle-fed on fresh cow milk and provided with a lot of drinking water. The next day it was treated for pneumonia using antibiotics and multivitamins. The foal was later transferred to Nairobi animal orphanage for further care.
Treatment of a buffalo with an arrow head sticking on the back
This case was reported to the vet by rangers at Sekenani gate of Masai Mara game reserve, it was one of the few buffalo bulls that are usually near the gate. The rangers assisted the vet to find the animal which was then immobilized using 5mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 30mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride delivered by Dan-inject dart gun. It took about 5 minutes to become recumbent, then the arrow head was removed and the wound treated. Blood samples and tissue samples were collected for storage in the vet sample bank for future reference. The animal was then revived from anaesthesia and released after treatment.
Cases of orchitis and testicular hypertrophy in Wildebeests
In a herd of about 400 wildebeests near Musiara gate, the vet came across two adult male wildebeests which had greatly swollen testicles and it was suspected that it could be a disease that affects many individuals in the herd. There was therefore need to investigate and confirm the cause of such a condition in wildebeests. The first animal was immobilized using 6mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 20mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride delivered by Dan-inject dart gun and it took 6 minutes to become recumbent.
On physical examination, both the testicles were firm and hypertrophied and could weigh about 1kg. The scrotal skin was warm and pitting, using a syringe and a needle a lot of pus was aspirated from the scrotal sac, then the scrotum was lanced on the ventral side to enhance pus drainage. The body temperature was 39 degrees Celsius. This was a chronic case of orchitis whose etiology was not immediately established. Blood samples, aspirates and tissue samples were collected and taken for laboratory analysis. The animal was then treated using antibiotics and revived from anaesthesia.
Smears of the aspirates was made on a microscopic slides then stained using Giemsa stain and observed under light microscope, this revealed numerous inflammatory cells such as plasma cells and macrophages but very few neutrophils. The tentative diagnosis was Corynebacteria infection, confirmation of this diagnosis required culturing of the aspirate samples to help isolate and identify the causative pathogen.
The second wildebeest with a similar condition was also anaesthetized the same way as above and examined. In this case the scrotal sac was full of blood tinged fluid that was drained when the scrotum was lanced on the ventral side. The animal had a fever of 40 degrees Celsius and the condition seemed to be an acute case. Aspirates, blood and tissue samples were collected and taken to the lab for further analysis. The tentative diagnosis was an acute case of bacterial infection of the testicles.
Removal of a snare from a zebra in Mara Conservancy
The case was reported to the vet by the management of Mara conservancy (Mara triangle in Transmara district). An adult female zebra had a loose wire round the neck near Oloololo gate. The animal was closely monitored by the security rangers until the vet team arrived to rescue it. It was immobilized by darting using 5mgs of etorphine hydrochloride combined with 60mgs of Xylazine hydrochloride and it took about 6 minutes to become recumbent. The wire was cut using a wire cutter and animal revived from anaesthesia.
The veterinary unit in Mara responds to all reported cases of sick or injured wild animals within the Mara ecosystem and other areas of Central Rift region. The unit still requires a refrigerator with a deep freezer for preservation of biological samples from the field, this will enhance collection and preservation of samples awaiting laboratory analysis for purposes of research, diagnosis, disease surveillance and monitoring.
Reported by; Dr. Domnic Mijele