Saturday, June 15, 2013

In addition to Devon’s blog entry, here is a little recap of our last day with Dr. Siefert:

June 13th, 2013
Today we have officially been in Uganda for one month. The time seems to be passing very quickly while at the same time it feels like we've been here for much longer. We were able to join Dr. Seifert tracking lions today and the mission was to find a lioness named Bridget to treat her for a potential eye infection. With help from James, Dr. Siefert’s field assistant, we were able to find her without too much trouble lounging in the shade of an ant hill. Bridget is one of the radio collared lionesses in the pride that Dr. Seifert monitors regularly.

It was interesting to learn about the technique that is used to dart gun lions. Dr. Seifert showed us the combination of Telazol and Medetomidine, calculated according to an estimation of Bridget's weight (120kg). After preparing the dart gun and equipment Dr. Seifert darted and anesthetized Bridget smoothly. She was quite startled at first, jumping up and looking for the source of the " bite"' but then calmly walked away a distance before lying down. It was explained to us that this is a normal reaction and many lions think they’ve just been bitten by a large tsetse fly!

We had about an hour to work without risk of her waking up. Since she had gone down in a very sunny spot, we rolled her onto a blanket and 6 of us carried her to a shady spot to work. Dr. Seifert applied local Oxytetracycline antibiotic to her eye and gave an intramuscular injection of long acting Oxytetracycline. We were all eager to help with monitoring, physical exam, and TPR (temperature, pulse and respiration). We also removed a number of ticks and Ilse drew blood to bring back to the lab. Blood, tick and saliva swab samples will be assessed for a number of diseases including but not limited to Rabies, Filariasis and Babesiosis.
Once we were finished working, cold water was poured over Bridget to cool her down and she received an injection of Atipamezole to reverse the sedation. We retreated in the land rover to a safe distance and watched to ensure she safely woke up. After about 10 minutes she sat up with the towel that had been placed over her eyes in her mouth. It was very cute! Convinced that she was now awake enough to defend herself against any other wildlife we left her in the shade of the trees and began our drive back to the main road. All in all a very interesting and exciting day!

Day of the African Child, June 14th, 2013
The next day we caught a taxi (matatu) back to Mbarara where we helped with Day of the African child in the afternoon. Day of the African Child,, is an annual event throughout Africa. It occurs during the month of June and NGOs and partners celebrate children and raise awareness for child related issues in Africa. The message this year was “Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: Our Collective Responsibility”.
There were a number of activities and games for the children such as face painting, story time and a very brief soccer game. We discovered it is very difficult to organise a soccer game with hundreds of children and the ball popped within 10 minutes, but they had fun while it lasted! The children loved our cameras and were very eager to have their pictures taken with everyone. There were songs and skits by the children to demonstrate some of the issues they face, and an awards ceremony to acknowledge all the partners involved. We all really enjoyed being part of this special day, thanks to FAOC and partners for organising such a successful event! 

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