A duiker that was impaled on a palisade fence in Fourways, Johannesburg, was rescued and treated on the scene by a private emergency response group on Thursday morning. (Images may be upsetting to sensitive viewers)
Jurgen Kotze, chief operating officer of Emer-G-Med, told News24 a community member alerted its units at around 07:00 to the animal in distress in the Norscot Koppies and Kingfisher Nature Reserve.
"Our first responder arrived on the scene and found a female duiker impaled in the palisade fence. She must have tried to jump through and got stuck and got impaled by a piece of palisade."
Kotze said the entry wound was just behind its hind leg.
"She was in a lot of pain so we activated our critical care retrieval team because they carry a different set of medication. They were assisted by the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinarian Hospital (JWVH) [which] arranged for the hospitalisation as well as guidance. The duiker was given some intravenous therapy and some medication to relax her and relieve pain. Emer-G-Med was also assisted by Dr Katja Koeppel, Elaine Reeve and Caleb Rowberry of the Montecasino Bird Gardens.
"No internal damage took place and I estimate in excess of 20 stitches with a few drains had to be placed, but the expected progression of healing is quite positive."
Dr Karin Lourens, resident veterinarian at the JWVH, told News24 it appeared that the duiker was stuck there for much of Wednesday night.
No organ damage
"The palisade spike went right through its body but fortunately it was just a muscular injury and no organs were damaged.
"The fact that she was stuck for that long could present some problems, and once she was found, a large crowd of people gathered which added to the stress she experienced. Antelopes are prone to what is called capture myopathy."
This is a complex disease associated with the capture or handling of any wild animal. The body's reaction to abnormal states such as infection, injury, extreme temperature, or even fear is stress. Capture and restraining an injured or ill animal is extremely stressful and can cause permanent damage and even death, said Lourens.
"Koeppel sedated her and attended to the wounds before she was sent to us for further care. The biggest danger at this point is capture myopathy - it can take a few days before it manifests," said Lourens.
Kotze said the prevalence of wild animals in distress has increased during the lockdown owing to animals venturing into areas usually occupied by people.
"There are fewer people taking up their space, so the animals are exposed to or can cause hazardous situations; for example, kudus jumping on to roads can cause massive damage. We had to amend our ambulance warning systems with different lights to light up the side of roads, and we implemented whistle technology to scare animals off.
"But we get quite a bit of animal activity in the cities as well."
According to Lourens, if all goes well, the duiker could be released as soon as Monday.