NEUTERING TO CONSERVE AFRICÄ'S ENDANGERED WILDLIFE Hannah Westen BSc(hons) MRes WorldwideVeterinary Service Intemational Projects Co-ordinator WVS Conservation Work worldwide veterinary Service(wvS) is now widely recognised the veterinary in field for its work with animalwelfarecharities and sanctuaries aroundthe world. Althoughbestknown for runningor assisting small animal neutering projects,WVS aims to provideassistance all for animal species and is, therefore,also keen to supportconservation projects.Generallythese projects conservation form a muchsmallerproportion the work carriedout by the charityand of are quitedistinctfrom the neutering campaigns; however, thereaqeoccasions whenthe two go handin hand.one suchprojectis cunentlybeingundertaken MaunAnimal welfare Society with (MAWS) in Botswana. MAWS MAWS runsan ongoing sterilisation campaign controldomestic populations to dog around Maun and,sinceits conception threeyearsago,hassterilised nearly800 dogsand40 cats.At the time of sterilisation, dogsare also vaccinated parvovirus, against rabiesand canine Distemper virus (CDV) andtreated wormsandcanine for venereal disease wherenossible. ProtectineWildlife Maun is one of the largest towns in Botswana serves the country'stourist capitalbeing and as gateway the world renowned situated the at to okavangoDelta,a uniqueand unspoilthavenfor wildlife. Membersof MAWS hope that their work to control and vaccinatedomesticdog populations help protectlocal wildlife, which in turn will havea beneficialeffecton rural will development. Botswana's rural development depends almostentirelyon the rich naturalresources wildlife and for which the country is internationally recognised. However,these wildlife resources are severely threatened uncontrolled by domestic dog populations, throughthe spread common of infectious diseases the uncontrolled and huntinsofnative wildlife. Disease Risk Therearenumerous examples ofthe devastating impactthat domestic diseases asrabies dog such andcvD havehadon African wildlife. unmanaged domestic populations dog havebeennamed asthe principalhostfor the rabies virus,whichcanaffectall mammalian (Baerand species Wandeler 1987). From 1991-1992 threequarters over ofthe criticallyendangered Ethiopian wolf population in BaleMountain NationalParkdiedfrom a rabies outbreak introduced unconh;ll;d domestic by dogs(Sillero-Zubiri al 1996). vaccination et A programme instigated the arival ofan was but unvaccinated in the arealedto another dog outbreak 2003/2004. is believed the dos was in It that accompanying immigrant its ownersin search ofseasonal grazing theircattle(Randall for elai 2004). A 1994outbreak ofCDV resulted the death in ofarounda third ofthe Serengeti population, lion oneof Africa's largest bestknownpopulations and ofthis iconicspecies. epidemicipread The to numerous otherspecies camivoreincluding of hyena, leopard bat-eared (Roelke-parker and fox er al 1996). This outbreak to a studyby cleaveland ai izoo0ywhichconcluded higherled el that
density domestic populations dog werea moreIikely source ofthe cDV infectionthanlowerpastoralist density dogs. African Wild Doe Populations ofthe highly endangered African wild dog (Lycaonpicrus) havebeendecimated by controllable diseases. 1990-1991 entireAfricanwilä dogpopulation In the ofthe Serengeti wai wipedout.Althoughthe exactcause ofthis catastrophe not-known, was rabies andcDi have bothbeenimplicated (Burrows1992, Macdonaldet al. lgg2,Alexander and Appel 1994). Threeyearslatera cDV outbreak to the death l0 Africanwild dogsin Botswana's led of chobe NationalPark(Al exander al,1996).population et numbers wereagainsäverely affected 1996 in whena suspected rabies outbreak MoremiGame in Reserve killed over 100animals one in captive populations at risk if immunologically are naive.over a threemonthperioc 1qn]!'lven in 2000/2001 captive a breeding programme Tanzania;s in MkomaziGame Reserve 4d of its lost 52 Africanwild dogsthroughan outbreak ofcDV (vande Bildt er al2002).Althoughtherewere no domestic dogspresent the reserve, possibility suchanimals in the of beingthe soirce ofthe outbreak not ruledout dueto the potential spread human fomiie contact. was for via or Iluntins wildlife species alsoat risk from huntingby feraldogs.In 2005,a largepackofferal are domestic dogsranging Botswana's in northem Haineveldl dispatcheJby problemAnimal was the control unit of theDepartment wildlife andNationalparksbecause the larsenumber of of of kuduthe. dogs werekillingin theregion. Morerecently there have been reports olferal dogpacks devastating populations ofground nesting predaöi birdsaround LakeNgami.TheÄotswana Conservation Program (BPCP)states ..these that problems common, a.e increasing, and devastating wildlife in Botswana. importance domestic controlfor tf,econservation to The of dog ofall wildlife, and largecamivores particular, in cannot overemphasized.', a resultofthis, be As ard of the overwhelming success the MAWS campaign date,the Bpcp.,strongly endorse of to the programmes domesticdog spayingand heaithcare"and "urge all .on""ä"d to of support these truly important efforts.', Other Benefits Thepositiveeffectsofthe programme not endwith the benefits localwildlife brought do to about by a reduction population in numbers disease and incidence, rural societies the local iea have in alsobenefited'_Asconsequence a demand spread has from its centreof operations Maunto as in far awayasGaborone, capitalthat lies 800km southby road. the such public demand comeabout has throughthe direct impactthat sterilisinga dog hason its ownerandthe community general. in steriliseddogsarelessinclinedto roamin ."u.Jh ofa mate gl th: ryru food that is requiredto firel the conti;ual cycleof mating,pregnancy ü;dti"". This leads a sharp to reduction roadtraffic accidents in involvingsuchäimäts. tüe ""d Ioyaif aog's and usefulness the homestead to improvesand it becomes fully integrated a ,n".6". oi tnl household' providing companionship protectionfor its owners.In addition,the risks to and _ human.health presented uncontro ed domestic by dogs,particurarly unvaccinateiuni,,'uir, reduced. -" The benefitsto the dogs'welfare are clear as their conditionand worth improvedramatically followingtreatment the needto euthanize and unwanted littersis removed. Increasinqthe Work
As a result of the public demandfor their services, along with the needto protectwildlife,. MAWS havedecidedto step-up their operations. do so they requirea dedicated operating To theatre, whichwork hasalready on begun, a four-wheel and drivevehicleto reachoutlyingareas. With two volunteers arriving in Maun for three monthsfrom mid-September, a separate and WVS team arriving for an intensivethree-week campaignin October,the need for both is immediate. In addition to these immediaterequirements MAWS' mediumterm goals include a mobile operatingtheatreto enablethem to increase their outreachwork and provide assistance to communities furtherafield. Restrictions From a backroomoperationinvolving a few concemedcitizens the MAWS campaignis expanding rapidly and must be ongoingin orderto maintainand build on its initial success. greatlyin organising CurrentlyWVS assists personnel visit MAWS twice a yearto conduct to intensive three-week sterilisation campaigns. However, costsof thesetrips are immense the and includedrugsand equipment, plus accommodation volunteers, andvehiclemaintenance for fuel administrative costs. Althoughthe burden ofthesecostsis split between WVS which coversthe majorityof drugcosts MAWS whichcovers and otherexpenses, fundingremains majorfactor the restricting amount the ofassistance WVS canprovide. that Ileln with Fundine Your help is desperately neededin order for the valuablework of MAWS to continueand provision expand. Iunding is required WVS for the ongoing by ofdrugsusedduringthe biannual trips they organise Botswana. to Provisionof thesedrugsallows MAWS to use more of their fundson essential facilitiesand equipment suchasthe new operating theatreand vehicle.With sufficientfundingthe eventual aim is to provideextrateams intensive for campaigns throughout the year. If you would like to help this work continue you can donate via the WVS website (www.WVS.ole.uk),where you can also view reports from past Botswana campaigns. Alternatively, donations be sentto: can Worldwide Veterinary Service, 5-7Castle Street, Cranbome, Dorset BIT21sPZ Tel: 01725551123 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Pleasemark donations'MAWS appeal", chequesshould be made payableto Worldwide Veterinary Service. Thankyou for your help,all donations or smallwill be gratefullyreceived big and will makea considerable difference.