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MVU APRIL 2014 Introduction The month of April was characterized by a drop in precipitation and reduced tourism activities within the greater Masai Mara ecosystem. Clinical cases handled were fewer compared to previous months, yet the unit still answered 8 reports including 2 elephant postmortems (one having been killed by a spear and the other with an unknown cause of death), 2 elephant treatments one for an arrow wound and one for a spear, the follow-up treatment of ‘Siena’ the lioness, as well as sampling of buffalos for trypanosomosis and collecting blood from an adult bull elephant. A sad incident was also investigated involving carnivore poisoning, where many predator carcasses were found having been intentionally poisoned.


MVU APRIL 2014 1.


Postmortem of an elephant, Naibosho Conservancy, 8 April 2014

Case History KWS security patrol team came across this elephant carcass near Naboisho airstrip while doing their routine patrol. The elephant could have died the night proceeding the day of postmortem. They requested veterinary services to ascertain cause of death. Both tusks were intact. Examination The carcass was found lying on his left side with scavengers having ripped open the abdomen and part of the thorax. There was no evidence of struggle before death at the scene. The elephant appeared to have been in good body condition before death. Except for openings created by scavengers, no other wounds were visible externally. Both tusks were retrieved and handed over to KWS security staff for safe custody. Conclusion Owing to the state of the carcass the cause of death could not be grossly determined. The integrity of the carcass and its organs had been interfered with by the scavengers


MVU APRIL 2014 2.



Sampling of buffalos for trypanosomosis, Masai Mara ecosystem, 8 – 17 April 2014

Case History In order to map the distribution of trypanosoma parasites and the Pan-African Tsetse a Trypanosomiasis Eradication campaign was embarked upon with the KWS and other stakeholders. This program included sampling susceptible species countrywide yet the Masai Mara ecosystem was identified as one of the target areas for sampling. The 10 day exercise saw 54 adult buffalos sampled. Among the samples collected were whole blood, ticks and tissue for DNA analysis. GPS locations for each of the individuals and their approximate ages by dentition was captured. Other morphometric measurements were also recorded. Activities Immobilization was achieved by use of 5mg etorphine HCL and 50mg azaperone delivered through Dan inject darting system. Reversal was achieved through intravenous administration of 36mg diprenorphine HCL. The exercise was successful.


MVU APRIL 2014 3.


Treatment of a male elephant at Mara Bush Tops lodge, 13 April 2014

Case History The management of Mara Bush Tops called to report an injured elephant amongst a resident herd. The mobile veterinary team responded immediately.

Immobilization and Treatment The elephant was in company of another older bull though he could not keep pace as he was limping on his right forelimb. The wound was discernible from a distance. Immobilization was achieved by use of 16mg etorphine HCL delivered through a 2ml Dan inject dart. A vehicle was used when darting. It took 8min for the elephant to be fully immobilized just at the edge of a thicket. Examination revealed a deep wound on the lateral surface of his right shoulder. The wound was sharp edged most likely inflicted by a spear. It was about 4Inches in diameter and 8inches deep. The wound could have been 1 week old. No foreign body was found in the wound when probed. The wound was copiously lavaged with clean water before being debrided with hydrogen peroxide and swabs. Lugols iodine was applied and green clay was used to cover the wound. In addition 15000mgs Amoxicillin antibiotic was administered into different sites intramuscularly. 100mg Dexamethasone sodium was given intramuscularly as an anti-inflammatory. Reversal This was achieved by administration of48mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride intravenously via the ear vein. Prognosis Good.


MVU APRIL 2014 4.


Suspected Predator Poisoning Investigation, 13 April 2014

Case History The Masai Mara National Reserve Chief Park Warden called to report sudden deaths in hyenas and jackals within the Park close to the Talek area. He was advised to note the GPS location of each carcass, and then transfer all the carcasses to a central place. This was to ease postmortem examination and guard against further scavenging as this appeared like a poisoning case.

Post-mortem Examination The post mortem carried out on one of the hyena carcasses was representative for the other carcasses which included two other female hyenas, a male and a female black backed jackal and a tawny eagle. All were collected dead within a radius of 500meters. The hyena carcass appeared to have been in perfect body condition before death with active mammaries suggesting she was nursing. General examination of the carcass revealed the following;       

Blood tinged froth from both nostrils and mouth. Rigor mortis was beginning to dissolve and the carcass was less than 24 hours old. Pinkish powder was observed sticking to the hairs of her front limbs. Both lungs were haemorrhagic. Extension of haemorrhage was evident in the entire respiratory tree including the bronchioles, bronchi, trachea and the nostrils. Mucus membranes were severely darkened. The liver, kidneys and spleen appeared mottled, and could easily break on handling. Both large and small intestines were congested with pasty chocolate coloured contents. The stomach contents showed that this hyena had fed on a bovine calf (domestic cow) less than twenty four hours prior to death. Part of the skin of the calf together with part of the front limb was retrieved from the stomach. The inner surface of the skin was laced with a pink substance which could have been poisonous.


MVU APRIL 2014 These stomach contents were collected as samples and have been sent to Government chemist for analysis to identify the chemical used for poisoning. Carbamates have been incriminated in various carnivore poisonings before and are among the substances requested to be tested in the samples. Conclusion The pattern of deaths, post mortem picture and strange substances found in the stomach of this hyena suggest poisoning as the cause of death. All carcasses collected were dumped into a twenty feet deep pit and buried and contaminated areas burned by help of petrol. County staff were advised to comb the area and collect any other carcasses and treat them in a similar way to minimize exposure. The type of poison used will be known as soon as the samples are tested by Government Chemist where the samples have been submitted to.


MVU APRIL 2014 5.


Retreatment of Siena, the lioness. (Governor’s camp) 14 April 2014

Case History Siena is a mature lioness aged 8 years. She is a mother of several members of the famous Marsh pride. She is a successful hunter and currently nursing three cubs who are four months old. She got a bad injury after being gored on her left flank by a buffalo while hunting with other members of the pride. First treatment was carried out on 4th April 2014 and second assessment which involved replacement of fallen sutures done on 10th April 2014. This time round the wound appeared wet and required cleaning and antibiotic application. Immobilization and physical examination Immobilization was achieved by use of a combination of 3mg dexmedetomidine and 280mgs Ketamine delivered through a 3ml Dan inject dart. Lioness was fully anaesthetized after five minutes. Examination revealed a discharging wound which required dressing but the sutures were still intact. Treatment involved cleaning the wound carefully with swabs and surgical spirit, application of iodine and cloxacillin antibiotic cream. Green clay was then applied.

Reversal This was achieved by administration of 18mgs atipamizole intramuscularly one hour after immobilization Prognosis Is fairly good although will require close and regular monitoring


MVU APRIL 2014 6.


Treatment of an injured elephant at Mara North Conservancy, 15 April 2014

Case History This young elephant bull was spotted by Mara North Conservancy rangers isolated and moving with difficulty. He showed an obvious limp on his rear right limb.

Immobilisation and Treatment Immobilization was achieved by administration of 14mgs etorphine hydrochloride through a 2ml Dan inject dart by vehicle. The drugs took effect after 8minutes with the elephant falling on his left side. Examination revealed a suspected arrow wound on the medial surface of his right tarsus causing severe swelling of the joint. Other shallow wounds were seen on the lateral right hip and lateral surface of the right carpus. All the wounds were washed with clean water, debrided with hydrogen peroxide and lugols iodine applied. Green clay was also packed into the bigger wound. In addition 150000mgs amoxicillin was given intramuscularly. Reversal and Prognosis This was achieved by intravenous administration of 42mgs diprenorphine hydrochloride into the ear vein. Prognosis is good.


MVU APRIL 2014 7.


Collection of blood from an elephant bull, 18 April 2014

Case History Serum from the blood will be extracted and used to boost immunity and defence of elephant orphans at elephant orphanages.

Immobilisation and blood collection A mature healthy bull was identified as a candidate. He was immobilized by use of 17mgs etorphine hydrochloride delivered through 2ml Dan inject dart by vehicle. The elephant was fully immobilized in eight minutes, upon which five pints of blood was collected from his ear vein. This was immediately sent for processing by competent laboratories. Reversal Achieved by administration of 54mgs of diprenorphine hydrochloride through the ear vein.

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MVU APRIL 2014 8.


Post mortem of an elephant near Ngama Hills, Masai Mara National Reserve, 20 April 2014

Case History This elephant carcass was discovered by Masai Mara game rangers while on routine patrol. The Chief Park Warden informed the mobile veterinary unit of the carcass and requested for a postmortem to be carried to ascertain cause of death.

General examination The carcass was found on sternal recumbency already putrefied and scavenged on. The 3rd stage of maggots was beginning to infest the carcass. The interior body parts were already dismembered by scavengers and predators including lions that were found on the site. A spear was retrieved about 20meters from the carcass most likely having fallen just before the elephant died. Both tusks were intact. The elephant appeared to have been in good body condition before death. The carcass was about five days old. Significant findings Closer examination revealed a deep sharp edged wound about 2 inches in diameter on his right flank. This was a penetrating wound suspected to have been caused by spearing right into the peritoneum and the large intestines. Fecal material was seeping through the opening. Conclusion The postmortem picture shows this elephant died of complications occasioned by spearing. These injuries lead to septic peritonitis and eventual death. Recovery of the spear and wound pattern suggest involvement of human activity on the death of this elephant.

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The Masai Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit wishes to thank all of the stakeholders who provided information on the animals that required veterinary intervention during the month. Many thanks go to the Minara Foundation for so loyally funding this unit, whilst appreciation also goes to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service who have partnered and facilitated the unit. Their input has been enormous, leading to timely and effective interventions. Reported by:Dr Campaign Limo Unit Veterinarian

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Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit Report April 2014  

A monthly report from the DSWT's Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit.