Last month, in collaboration with Vets for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe (VAWZ) and the District Veterinary Department, we held a rabies vaccination campaign in Bikita District situated on the western boundary of the Savé Valley Conservancy. This was in response to reports of children dying from the virus and adults being bitten by suspected rabid domestic stray dogs in the area.
We operated at eight stations throughout the campaign and vaccinated a total of 969 domestic dogs. However, given that there are estimated to be almost 20 000 domestic dogs in just Bikita District alone, we most certainly have our work cut out for us! Given the close proximity of these communities to the wildlife in the conservancy, a rabies outbreak could not only be devastating for our African wild dog population, but many other wildlife species that are highly susceptible to the virus.
Given the remoteness of these areas, operations like this are no small feat, and people often have to travel far distances to bring their animals to the nearest allocated site for vaccinations. This means some interesting modes of transport for the animals!
We hope as word spreads and the people come to understand the benefit of these campaigns, not only for wildlife, but for their health and that of their domestic dogs too, we will have even greater support for the campaigns and a bigger ‘turnout’ of domestic dogs. We are hoping to carry out a follow up campaign in Mahenye (where we held an initial campaign in February this year) before the end of the year.