Hard to believe, but I am back in Tanzania for my fourth year of domestic dog demography data collection! Yes, fourth! Since 2010, I have been tracking free-roaming domestic dogs in villages west of Serengeti National Park to determine the impact of vaccination on dog demography and ownership practices. In other words, I want to better understand what dog life is like here in Tanzania.
What do they eat? How many dogs live in these villages? And the BIG question (this is why I’ve been doing this for four years)—how long do they live?
Answering these questions will help the Serengeti Health Initiative continue dog rabies vaccination campaigns in Tanzania so that we can protect the people and amazing wildlife of Serengeti from rabies.
“Karibu!” (You are most welcome!) As usual, we kicked off this field season in Buyubi Village and were warmly welcomed by village leaders and our study household owners. Better yet, many of our “oldies but goodies,” such as Simba-B003 (4 years old), Panadol-B017 (3.5 years old) and Kausha-B184 (4.5 years old), are still alive and doing well!
These are some of my favorite dogs we originally identified in 2010, and they are very important data points for our research. One of the things we are studying is whether or not dog survival is different in villages without vaccination (such as Buyubi) compared to villages that are part of the rabies vaccination program. Plus these dogs are really sweet too!
B185-Simba and his brother B184-Kausha (lying down) in 2010.
Kausha (sitting) and Simba (standing) in 2013.
It’s a little bittersweet collecting this fourth year of data as this is technically the last year of the demography study, and I will miss seeing “our” dogs and their families in the coming years. So while I’m here in Tanzania for the next couple months, I am soaking up as much doggie data as possible—as well as cute dogs and puppies and their welcoming families.
The Kwalu Songwa Family and their puppy B378-Akiri
Me and some helpers from the Korobi Mjimaga Family and their two new puppies that they haven’t had a chance to name yet!
Research Coordinator Anna Czupryna studies domestic dog population dynamics near Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Her work is one part of a zoo-led vaccination campaign that protects the region’s people, pets and predators against diseases including rabies.