Workshop May 2022

22/06/2022

The May 2022 Mara North Conservancy Dog project has come to an end. The five Danish, three Kenyan and two American veterinary students that participated in the workshop have left Karen Blixen Camp in MNC to go back to their respective universities.

Once again, we were very pleased with the outcome of the workshop. Fifty dogs (15 female and 35 male) were spayed/neutered in 6 days, amongst them was a 6-month-old puppy with a tibial fracture; a male dog with a large, partly granulated bite wound on the neck; and a young female with a nasty injury to the ear – an injury that had ripped off part of the ear/pinna, was heavily infested with maggots and full of necrotic tissue. The three patients were all treated as close to ‘best practice’ as possible, taking the field-like conditions into account. In the case of the puppy, we did not have any regular bandaging material for stabilizing the fracture, so we had to improvise, cutting an airplane fleece blanket – thank you KLM – into strips, using them to construct a ‘Robert-Jones’ look-alike bandage with splints made of tongue depressors. The female dog with the ear injury spent the night at the clinic after a long surgery, in which the ear flap/pinna had to be removed and the skin over the base of the ear had to be closed to cover the wound.

The clinic itself deserves its own chapter as this was the first time that we used the new clinic for the MNC Dog project. Since the beginning of March, the maintenance team from Karen Blixen Camp had been working on the former library building, turning it into a well-functioning clinic with plenty of space, light, air and running water! As usual, we let the students participate in the unpacking of utensils, organizing the set-up of the space, and planning the rotations of the clinical work. We wanted them to acquire the feeling that this was their clinic (supervised by the veterinarians from our three universities). The result was very special!

It made a big difference to have enough space, not only for practical reasons, but also – most importantly – for hygienic reasons. Keeping a sterile surgical environment is crucial, but is quite challenging if you have a tiny room with a low ceiling, bat-feces falling from the roof, and goats passing through now and then. So thanks to the Karen Blixen Camp Trust, which paid for the renovations and pays the lease we are now able to perform surgeries under much more hygienic conditions.

During the three previous workshops, we have focused on the dogs in and around the small town of Mararienta. But as Aitong, the major town in the area, has a large (and relatively neglected) population of dogs, and as the Aitong community has started requesting our assistance, we decided to focus our efforts on dogs from that area. Likewise, we located our field day in the outskirts of Aitong, this way making the project visible for passers-by. As we had valuable assistance from Saruni Camp, which is located near Aitong, it made it even more appropriate to focus on dogs from that area.

It might just be a coincidence, but it was our immediate impression, that he dogs from Mararienta are in better general condition than the ones from Aitong. Whether this is due to our campaign in Mararienta or not, we cannot say … but we hope so.

With regards to informational campaigns, we managed to conduct two successful school visits to Mararienta United Primary School. Some of the veterinary students went there and talked about the importance of having fewer but healthier dogs, showed the MNC Dog Project video and demonstrated the surgeries on our customized stuffed toy dog.

All the dogs that underwent surgery were vaccinated against rabies, canine distemper and parvovirus and were treated against both internal (intestinal worms) and external (fleas and ticks) parasites. In order to investigate the parasite load further, two additional students from Copenhagen had come to collect data for their master research project on the occurrence of hemoparasites in the domestic maasai dog.

It was very fortunate that Leonard Kibet, a Kenyan participant from November’s workshop, came to assist us with all the odd jobs, such as cleaning and sterilizing surgery instruments. We also had very valuable help from veterinary technician, Marianne Whitall Christensen from the University of Copenhagen, who volunteered to come help Dr. Helle Harding Poulsen with the anesthesia. 

The hard working surgeons were the same team as last time: Dr. Specioza Chelan’g from the University of Nairobi, Dr. Jerlyn Sponseller from Tufts University, and Dr. Rikke Langebæk from the University of Copenhagen.

As before, Dr. Stephen DeVincent, Chair of Karen Blixen Camp Trust, was active in the laboratory work.

Finally, veterinary technician James Nyetuni, as always, managed all the logistics with regards to scheduling dogs for surgery, catching and transporting patients to the clinic, checking on patients post-operatively, and organizing the vaccination campaign in the Conservancy, which will continue throughout the year.

The project is supported by Dyrenes Beskyttelse (DK), Ragnhild Bruuns Fond, Karen Blixen Camp Trust, Boerhinger/Ingelheim, Kruuse A/S and eVet.

Lastly, the participating students were:

DENMARK:

Julie Koch Kvist Bruun (Master’s degree project)

Anne Fæløv Christensen

Charlotte Abild Hindsted (Master’s degree project)

Rasmus Fjord Høegh 

Rosalina Rotovnik

Veronika Stark

Mette Strandgaard

USA:

Rachel Hanford

Amelia Sorlie

KENYA:

Brenda Kimetto

Augustine Gesora

Sinaida Wanjiku

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