Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit - April 2013

Summary This report describes clinical activities of the Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit in April 2013


This report describes clinical activities of the Meru Mobile Veterinary Unit in April 2013. Cases attended by the unit include: Post mortem examination of a black rhino and dehorning of two white rhinos in IL Ngwesi conservancy; treatment of a lion mauled by hyenas in Kora national park, autopsy of a baby rhino in Lewa conservancy and treatment of an elephant with abdominal swelling in Meru national park. We would like to thank the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for funding the operations of the Meru MVU.


Species: Eastern Black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) Age: 13 years Sex: Male Owner: IL Ngwesi community conservancy Origin: Lewa Downs

Background information

On Friday 5th April 2013, the Lewa radio room requested for a post mortem examination on a black rhino carcass at the IL Ngwesi community conservancy. Two white rhinos and several antelope species also inhabit the 5 km2 rhino sanctuary at the conservancy. The sanctuary is strategically situated at the foot of a hill to enable security monitoring of wildlife. In addition to a solar powered electric fence, armed rangers on patrol provide round the clock protection to endangered rhino species. This report describes the findings of a post mortem examination conducted on a black rhino carcass in IL Ngwesi conservancy on 6th April 2013 by the Meru mobile veterinary unit. This procedure was conducted to determine the cause of death, document forensic evidence and collect samples for genetic analysis.


Visual examination of carcass position, sectioning and sample collection and analysis.

Major findings

Evidence of struggle in the immediate vicinity of the carcass. Carcass was lying on right lateral recumbency with its external ears, preputial area, mandibular lip and palpebrae bitten off by scavengers. The lower abdomen and perineum was infested by second generation maggots which suggest the carcass was at least 72 hours old.

Both horns (front and rear) were removed for safekeeping by the Warden Isiolo Penetrating wound caused by a sharp object into the left middle thoracic area caudal to the 10th rib. The wound measured approximately 5 cm wide and penetrated through the intercostal space into the thoracic cavity. On opening the carcass, evidence of internal hemorrhage with blood clot in the ventral thoracic cavity. Internal organs were extensively autolysed.


Cause of death: Cardiogenic shock secondary to hemorrhage caused by sharp object inflicted injury.

These findings point to human involvement in the death of this animal.


Two white rhinos were dehorned in IL Ngwesi community conservancy on 6th and 10th April 2013.

This procedure was approved by the Kenya Wildlife Service following a proposal by the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) to mitigate security risk on these two individuals. The rhinos a male and female age 13 years originated from the Lewa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Chemical immobilization

A combination of Etorphine Hcl (M99) 6mg and Azaperone Hcl 80mg in a single 3cc DanInject dart was employed. Because of dense bush and difficult terrain the animals were darted on foot with directions provided by a spotter at an observation point located on a hill top. A fixed wing airplane monitored darted animals and guided the ground team to the animal through radio communication.

First attempt on the male was successful with induction time of 8 minutes. On contact, we used a blindfold to prevent visual stimulation. Rate and depth of respiration was continuously monitored during the procedure to ensure that the immobilized animal was stable as well as dousing with copious amount of water to prevent hyperthermia. The female was darted first on 6th April but the dart was placed subcutaneously and discharged only half way. Further attempts at darting for one and half hours were not successful despite the fact this animal was partially narcotized. Therefore, to prevent exhaustion and complications that may arise such as capture myopathy we postponed the procedure to 10th April.

Dehorning procedure

The rhino was positioned on sternal recumbency during the procedure. A circular mark was made using a pencil approximately 10cm from the base of the horn to guide the saw and prevent damage to the germinal layer of the horn. We used a hand held power saw to trim the horn. Thereafter, a rasp file was used to blunt the edges of the cut horn. Petroleum jelly with lanolin was applied on the cut surface of the horn to prevent drying and cracking.

Reversal from anesthesia

The procedure lasted approximately 30 minutes. Naltrexone Hcl 150mg administered intravenously through the superficial ear veins


A carcass of a neonatal rhino was examined to establish and document the cause of death. Findings: On opening the carcass there was comminuted fractures of the pelvis and dislocation of the left hip joint.

Conclusion: Baby rhino suspected to have been trampled by its inexperienced primipara mother.

LION WITH BITE WOUNDS IN KAMBI YA SIMBA, KORA NATIONAL PARK Species: Panthera leo Name: Mugie Sex: male Age: 1 year 3 months Location: Kambi ya Simba Introduction

On 10th April 2013, a lion that was kept in a captive facility in Kambi ya Simba, Kora national park was attacked by hyenas and sustained injuries on its lower abdomen and perineal area.

The Meru MVU following consultation with the management of this captive facility attended to the injured animal on Thursday 11th April 2013.

Chemical immobilization and relocation

The lion which was found about 500 meters from its enclosure was immobilized and relocated to the enclosure for examination and treatment.

10% Ketamine Hcl 150mg with 4% Medetomidine Hcl 2mg in a single 3cc DanInject dart was used to immobilize the animal. The dart was placed in the gluteal muscles dorsal and caudal to the right thigh. A second injection consisting of 10% Ketamine 70mg and 4% medetomidine 1mg was given by hand when no signs of anesthesia were observed after 20 minutes. Induction time was 35 minutes from the initial dart.

The lion was loaded into a truck and transported to a shed in the enclosure.

Examination and management


Penetrating wounds at the perineal area; traumatic castration and missing prepuce. Extensive bite wounds on the distal left flank and the stifle joint characterized by skin avulsion, large dead space and hematomas. Parts of the skin were missing. The wounds were contaminated by sand and other foreign materials Bite wounds on the right flank, forelimbs and lower abdomen Dehydration and suspected internal hemorrhage

Treatment: Thorough wash of the wounds with soap and water; wound debridement; green clay applied and topical antibiotic spray Amoxicillin trihydrate injection 3000mg administered intramuscularly 0.1% Dexamethasone Hcl 10mg intramuscularly Injection Ivermectin 2ml subcutaneously To review after 48 hours

Prognosis: Guarded. Traumatic orchiectomy may cause severe life threatening internal bleeding. The lion died after 48 hours before a clinical review could be conducted. ABDOMINAL SWELLING IN ELEPHANT IN MERU NATIONAL PARK

Background information

A male adult elephant was reported to have a red swelling on its ventral abdomen by rangers on patrol at the Bwatherongi camp site on 23rd April 2013. The elephant was spotted in a herd of 30 animals.

The Meru MVU responded immediately and began searching the affected individual. Because of the rainy season there were several herds of elephants in the park hence the search lasted several hours. However, we were lucky to find it late in the evening. The animal was immobilized for examination and treatment.

Chemical immobilization

Etorphine Hcl 12mg in a 3cc DanInject dart with a 2.2 60mm needle. The dart was placed in the brachial muscles. Induction time was 13 minutes. Standard procedures on immobilized elephants were observed to ensure the animal was in stable condition.

Examination and treatment

A large swelling on the right ventral abdomen 10cm in diameter, lesion was ulcerated, firm on palpation. Aspiration did not reveal pus. Differential diagnosis: Tumour or a Hernia


Surgical excision of lesion. Skin around lesion was scrubbed with soap and water and surgical spirit applied. Hemorrhage was controlled by hemostatic forceps and ligation of blood vessels. Sample was submitted to the laboratory for characterization. Betamox trihydrate 30g intramuscularly Dexamethasone sodium 50mg intramuscularly.

Prognosis: Guarded

Report by: Bernard Rono