A few days ago, we had a kudu die in the conservancy, which tested positive for rabies. This is of huge concern for the wild dog population here. Once in a pack, rabies can spread through the whole pack in a matter of days or weeks, killing every individual. It’s a horrific disease and unfortunately there is no cure for it. Also, given the high density of wild dogs in the north of the conservancy, the pack home ranges overlap considerably and therefore the potential for the disease to spread between packs is very high.
There is a vaccine available which seems to have mixed results in preventing wild dogs from contracting rabies, but, as with any wild animal, getting the vaccine into them is challenging. The dogs need first to be immobilised and then vaccinated, and getting close enough even to get the darts in is often a problem. Nonetheless, we simply must try, and will be focussing on vaccinating the alpha pairs of each pack initially, followed by other breeding individuals… This is in the hope that should rabies get into a pack, these individuals will survive and thus be abel to start rebuilding the pack next year.
Fortunately there is not yet any sign of rabies in the wild dog packs we have seen recently. We found the Maera pack yesterday, lazing around by a water pan, and all were looking healthy
Since we managed to get close enough to this pack, I tried to dart the alpha male (Alphy), in order to vaccinate. But despite good placement of the dart, it unfortunately bounced out straight away, spilling the drugs onto the skin instead of into the muscle, and the dog did not go down. We will keep trying.
So rabies is a big worry, but fortunately, for the moment at least, the dogs all look fine. It maybe that the case of rabies in the kudu was an isolated incident, but an outbreak within the wild dogs is not something we can afford to risk…
Please help us to protect these dogs from rabies. We really need your help now. We need to buy vaccines, immobilising drugs and fuel. We may need to get some vets down and pay the scouts over-time – and we are desperately in need of funds. And urgently!
You can make a donation right here through this blog, and it will only take a few minutes of your time. Please consider helping us, with whatever you can afford to – however large or small a donation it will all make a difference. With your help, hopefully we will succeed in saving some of the dogs, in the event of a rabies outbreak here, and turning a potential distaster into a conservation success story.