Serengeti Field Diaries

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September 26, 2014
Help Fight Rabies a World Away

Let’s face it. Going to the vet can be a chore. Between conflicting schedules, traffic and doctor availability, simply scheduling an appointment can be challenging. Convincing your dog, or better yet, your cat, that going to the vet is a good thing, can be tricky (Isn’t it funny how cats refuse to get into the carrier at home but then refuse to get out at the vet?). And that doesn’t even mention looking for parking and then waiting for the doctor once you finally get there.

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December 10, 2009
Arriving in the Serengeti

After two flights, a bus ride to Arusha and several hours in the car to drive into the park, we have finally arrived in the Serengeti for our annual project trip. This is my first time in the region, and I am amazed at how dry it is here, despite being in the middle of the short rainy season.

On the way to the park we stopped briefly to get a glimpse of the Ngorogoro Crater, which is a huge open valley where the Masaai tribe and their cattle live alongside zebra, wildebeest and water buffalo.

December 4, 2009
Catching Up With Cattle

Team member Machunde Bigambo takes blood from a goat outside a "boma."

I spent this last week with one of the founding members of the Carnivore Disease Project, Dr. Sarah Cleaveland from the University of Glasgow.

November 9, 2009
The Serengeti Health Initiative: Eliminating Rabies

A man carries his dog to be vaccinated.

Vaccinating dogs is hazardous at the best of times, but when the dogs in question are semi-feral, a whole new level of skill and speed is needed. One must approach the dog from behind, syringe in hand, and the vaccination needs to be completed in a single-handed rapid action.

October 2, 2009
Author Alexander McCall Smith Visits Serengeti

Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, visited the Serengeti in June to showcase his support for rabies vaccination efforts managed by Lincoln Park Zoo.

McCall Smith and his wife were hosted by Sarah Cleaveland, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Glasgow, Lincoln Park Zoo collaborator and director of the Alliance for Rabies Control.

September 28, 2009
Lincoln Park Zoo Supports World Rabies Day

Today marks the third annual World Rabies Day. This event, organized by the Alliance for Rabies Control, is aimed at raising awareness about the impact of rabies on people and animals as well as the importance of vaccination programs to prevent the disease.

As part of our Serengeti Health Initiative, Lincoln Park Zoo is leading efforts to vaccinate domestic dogs in Tanzania’s Serengeti region, preventing the spread of the disease among dogs, people and wildlife.

September 24, 2009
Vaccination Day!

Yesterday was the day I’ve been looking forward to since I arrived in Serengeti. Yesterday I got to participate in one of integral parts of the project as we vaccinated dogs and cats in Ngarawani village for rabies, protecting not only domestic animals but also wildlife and humans from this deadly disease.

As we neared Ngarawani, I noticed some people walking their dogs, a sight you don’t typically see in Serengeti district. As we pulled up to the site, there were at least twenty people already waiting patiently with their pets.

September 22, 2009
Taking to the Field

I’m pretty sure I had (hopefully the past tense) fleas and/or an assortment of “dudus” (Swahili for insect) at some point last week. While in Mugumu with Katie, I was able to visit another village, Ngarawani, to conduct some household questionnaires. Many dogs and cats here have fleas and ticks, and many of them are also malnourished and thin. These dogs eke out a precarious existence between humans and wildlife, part pet, part livestock, part sentinel and part scavenger.

Though life may at first appear somewhat bleak for domestic dogs, there are those who are truly loved.

June 17, 2009
Studying Swahili and Sobering Moments

Mambo? Poa poa!

I would like to think my Swahili skills are progressing nicely. In reality, when I’m about to express a carefully rehearsed, meticulously devised, silently-practiced-in-my-head sentence of at least four words (yes I am now up to four words in a row, thank you very much), I end up spewing something totally incomprehensible: part Polish, Spanish and English with perhaps a hint of Swahili (if I’m lucky) that is probably rather offensive. Oops!

Luckily, however, most Tanzanians are appreciative of my efforts and chuckle while attempting to correct me.

June 15, 2009
Data Dumps and a Dog’s Life

Habari! So yesterday was the halfway point of my trip. Time is flying by—I am learning a lot, experiencing more, meeting tons of people and trying to absorb the wild beauty all around me.

Yet it’s not all romantic safaris and roaring lions here (the lions are actually quite lazy most of the time).

June 5, 2009
The Adventure Begins

My adventure begins in the bustling metropolis of Arusha. Here there are busy shops, street vendors, mangoes, bananas, school children in colored uniforms, dust, car exhaust, giant Coca-Cola bottle advertisements, taxis and daladalas (in which, amazingly you can fit 26 people, two babies and me and my backpack as well!). In the very center atop the clock tower, three giant plasmas feature wildlife scenery from Tanzania’s national parks.

I stocked up for the next few weeks by shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables in the big market.

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