Guidelines: Record keeping
Record keeping is an essential component of the rehabilitation process. Not only are records necessary for managing individual cases as they go through rehabilitation, but they may provide biologists and wildlife vets with valuable retrospective data about this emerging conservation practice.
A ‘New Arrivals Form’ should be filled out for every animal admitted to a rehabilitation facility. This should record information about:
- Where the tiger was found (including GPS coordinates), and background information about the circumstances of its problem if available.
- How alert was the tiger before capture?
- How stressed did the animal seem?
- How was it behaving – particularly towards people and livestock?
- Whether a full clinical examination was conducted at capture with any results.
- Microchip transponder (if fitted on admission) number and location. (It is recommended that a microchip transponder is implanted into every new arrival to a rehabilitation facility. The advised location is intramuscular in the muscles of the shoulder blades. Microchips inserted subcutaneously may move from their initial implantation site making subsequent location more difficult.)
- Photographs of the stripe pattern on head and flanks are useful for future identification.
- Presence of any old injuries (torn ears, large scars, etc.) should be recorded.
Starting at the beginning of the quarantine period and continuing until release, a daily log should be made of each animal’s behaviour – attitude, food intake (including any milk substitute if not weaned), activity, prey hunting competence etc. These observations should be made as remotely as possible.
A detailed veterinary clinical record should also be kept for each tiger which includes:
- Clinical observations – general condition, appearance
- Clinical abnormalities – injuries, abnormal gait or lameness, skin lesions, abnormal masses, eye lesions, dental abnormalities, etc. (i.e. injuries and illnesses)
- If the tiger is being treated for specific injuries or illnesses, a record should be made of progress.
- Examinations, investigations or procedures, including results of any laboratory tests, xrays etc, should be recorded in detail.
- Medications or other treatments given
- Details of anaesthetics administered
- If a tiger dies the results of any post mortem examinations should be recorded
All this information can be compiled into a single folder to facilitate ongoing and retrospective review.