Whew, after the rush and fun of Valentine’s weekend, the pace of life has not slowed down….nor did we expect it to! We do still make time to sit and watch the sunset every now and then, though….with the end of the rainy season looming, the Save River is dropping in volume daily, and this gigantic tree that rolled down with the last floods is being left high and dry….
In response to reported cases of rabid dogs, and a little girl suspected to have died of rabies at the end of 2014 in Mahenye community, adjacent to Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge and Gonarezhou National Park, Clive Stockil, Chilo Gorge, African Wildlife Conservation Fund and Frankfurt Zoological Society donated accomodation at Chilo Gorge Lodge and further secured funding for VAWZ -(Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe) to carry out a rabies vaccination campaign in the area.
Some of the VAWZ team based in Harare:
The campaign officially started on February 17th, and a pre-awareness campaign resulted in a positive response from the community, with over 300 domestic dogs being vaccinated on the first day!
The community, local ground staff and veterinarians have made this happen. Mel Hood and Vawz team were assisted by Dr Chris Foggin and Jess Dawson, and Dr. Helene Donohoe assisted VAWZ in their very important work in the Lowveld. Helene and Ant Donohoe helped to run an eco-workshop educational workshop at Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge for 2 days alongside the vaccination initiative…(more about that wonderful workshop in a later post…)
Cattle dipping day was chosen as a time when many herders would come in to a central point with their dogs…
The vet team were impressed with the general health and well being of the dogs that they saw in the Mahenye area, and commented that these were some of the best looking, and fiercest dogs that they have seen around the country!
I guess reflecting their Changana owners personalities, these are proud hunting dogs!
Some patients were reluctant…..
others were more resigned to their fate….
Not only the patients were reluctant….
even although a pre awareness and outreach had taken place the week before the vets arrival, some of the more remote villagers felt suspicious of what effect the vaccinations would have on their dogs apart from disease prevention, feeling that perhaps the jabs might make their treasured hunting dogs less fierce, less ‘hunterly!’
For these few sceptics , time will tell, and next time round they will be hopefully more willing to vaccinate their dogs, having seen not only a marked improvement in their dogs’ health, but no resultant lack of hunting skills!
Dr Chris Foggin provided expert assistance and advice…
Mel Hood and Caroline keeping records…
A potential rabies outbreak could not only have severe consequences for the health of the local community, but also local wildlife (including African wild dogs).
In the past, I have seen whole packs of our African wild dogs die in a short space of time due to rabies, which spreads fast among theses very social animals…
Painting-“Dog Dance”, by Lin Barrie– acrylic on canvas, 100 x 130 cm ……………..
With the easing of our rainy season, the Save river is dropping, allowing easier passage of wild animals such as wild dogs and increasing the chances of wild mammals coming into contact with rabid domestic dogs, so this initiative is non-too soon…..
Every dog vaccinated makes a potential difference….and by the end of this exercise over 1300 dogs were vaccinated and treated for worms!
At the same time as the vaccination exercise, Helene and Ant Donohoe conducted an Eco -Workshop at Chilo, for members of the Mahenye community and Chilo Staff…more than 20 people attended and all comments afterwards were very positive. This initiative is really useful, helping a diverse cross-section of people to understand the Eco-challenges faced by the whole world, not just Africa…..