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Helping nature heal wounds

Helping nature heal wounds

Helping nature heal wounds

I never cease to be astounded by the rate at which most wild animals’ wounds heal. As  vets  we do what we can when we have the animals immobilised, but with wildlife patients we usually only get the one precious chance at treatment.

We were called out to examine a young buffalo bull that had been reported limping. The caller had also noticed a wound on the buffalo’s one hind leg, and it was suspected that he had forced his way through a fence. We located the herd and after a quick assessment it was decided that the buffalo definitely needed to be darted.

We loaded the dart and did a drive-by darting. The herd moved in to examine the red-ended dart and to investigate the darted buffalo’s peculiar behaviour. We moved the vehicle in between the inquisitive bovines and the patient and they clomped off reluctantly once he stopped tottering around and rested on his sternum.

We could smell the wound while we were still approaching him. Once the blindfold was securely in place we rolled him on his side to give us a good view of the wound.  It was a very long and deeply infected wound right down to the bones on the inside of his right hind leg. Maggots infested the wound but they had done a splendid job of clearing away most of the dead tissue.

It was vigorously cleaned and the maggots rudely removed from their comfortable home. There were so many of the larvae that it took some time, but with persistence eventually just clean, pink flesh confronted us. The lesion was packed with lime and the animal given good antibiotic and anti-inflammatory cover before being woken up.

In just over a minute he was up and looking at us before ambling off to find his herd. The following day he was walking much easier and he has almost made a full recovery. With wild patients, a happy ending is enough thanks for any job.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 12, March 2013)