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Monday, April 4, 2011
A Grim Reminder
I recently experienced a sad reminder of the importance of the Serengeti Health Initiative. On a drive out of the Serengeti, whilst passing through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), I discovered a spotted hyena lying out in the midday sun having convulsions by the side of the road. It passed away soon after. Through the prompt action of the NCA veterinary team, samples were taken that have since tested positive for the rabies virus.
This is one of the first cases of rabies in a wild animal in the ecosystem in a number of years. There were also recent reports of rabies in a wild dog in a game-hunting area south of the Serengeti along with several incidences of rabies in domestic dogs and hyenas southeast of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Together, these scattered cases illustrate that rabies is an ever-present threat, underscoring the importance of maintaining the rabies-free area created around the Serengeti National Park by the Serengeti Health Initiative’s annual vaccination campaign, carried out in collaboration with the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.
Without our ongoing efforts to create and maintain the protective ring of vaccinated domestic dogs around the Serengeti, rabies would soon spill into Serengeti National Park. This would have dire consequences for the Serengeti’s endangered carnivore species, especially the African wild dogs, who have been resurgent in recent years.
Thankfully—and with your help—our ongoing rabies-vaccination efforts continue to protect the Serengeti’s people, pets and predators.
Serengeti Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is leading the Serengeti Health Initiative, a collaborative effort to preserve the wildlife of this African ecosystem while benefiting local people. Our Serengeti field diaries feature updates as scientists conduct vaccination efforts, collaborate with Tanzanian partners and encounter the Serengeti’s famed wildlife.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction at the zoo and in the wild.
A graduate student in the department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Anna is studying how rabies vaccination campaigns of domestic dogs in villages around Serengeti National Park affect population dynamics.
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