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Mending game in the veld

Mending game in the veld

Mending game in the veld

Wildlife wound repair in the field can be a challenging exercise in many realms, the least of which being the assembling of the equipment boxes for all eventualities (think lizards to lions).

We were contacted to catch a young python that was causing exaggerated alarm amongst the poultry, and owners, on a small holding. Upon arrival at the location the snakes’ specific position was betrayed by the large, overwrought crowd (as there normally is) surrounding a clump of long grass and wild flowers.

The pythons head was restrained with the catch-all pole and she was pulled to open ground. On close examination, the python had a horrible open wound on the right side of her mouth, but luckily the damage did not extend into her mouth. We decided to take her to a quiet area for treatment, after measuring and weighing her (3.10 m and 13.5kg).

Snakes require nearly ten times the amount per kilogram of inject-able anaesthetic than a dog would require for the same depth of anaesthesia, but the effects last for a much longer time. Once she was fully asleep the wound was cleaned (no shaving required) and prepared for closure. The edges were easily pulled to oppose each other and 18 stitches put in.

We kept her for two weeks and once we were happy with how the healing had progressed, removed the stitches. The following day she was released at a nearby game park and within five minutes simply disappeared into the undergrowth.

Following that treatment was a young buffalo bull that had been horned in the right eye by the herd bull during a show of dominance. By the time that we were informed of the wound, the eyeball had been enucleated (hanging out) for more than ten days. Once the buffalo was immobilised it was determined that the eye had been damaged beyond any hope of repair and we geared up to remove the eye-ball.

The degree of swelling and contamination of the wound made it a rather protracted surgery but we did win in the end, with the buffalo’s head propped up on a bag of cubes and the assistants shooing away any errant, opportunistic flies and other buffalo. I’m glad to report that he did make a full recovery from that incident but earned himself the name Cyclops!

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 10, Sept 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Harare