I have some time off post fire to get my head together and take a break here at Kuti Wildlife Reserve before the new recruits head out and we start work again. Though time off doesn’t stop me from keeping myself busy. Hezy, a wildlife vet in Malawi is about so Dom and I assist her with a Wildebeest necropsy.
Now the following is a bit gruesome… may I warn you. So those of you that don’t like a blood and mess, might want to skip past this blog entry. For those not familiar with the term, a necropsy is a post mortem examination of animal to determine the cause of death. Sadly one of the Wildebeest newly brought to the reserve died this week after escaping from the reserve and being chased by the local villagers. To determine whether there were any other underlying reasons or disease she may have been suffering from, as she was very underweight, we undergo this stomach churning exercise. I haven’t actually done a necropsy since my Masters degree at Nottingham Trent University so I am looking forward to get stuck in (literally).
We start off by examining the body externally and then begin to cut the body open from the mouth, all the way down the side of the body, needing to take it very carefully as to not cut the wrong place and either cut a vein (blood everywhere) or hit the stomach (also not fun!). Hezy guides us as we struggle to cut through the tough skin,whilst also trying to make sure we keep the knife sharp. After going alongside one side we need to turn the animal over to get in from the other side, checking for tumours and any other weird ailments that could determine some type of disease. We also have to be extremely careful for anthrax poisoning and TB.
It is a very heavy animal to turn as wildebeest can weight up to 600lbs! The last stage is to determine the stomach contents which helps ensure that the animal was able to eat. Whilst there was stuff in her stomach, it was determined that she was actually probably malnourished and not feeding properly. Her teeth where very warn down in sections from its previous diet. It’s teeth were in such a bad state it was not eating some of the great grasses around here at the reserve.