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Wednesday, May 9, 2012
1 Millionth Dose
Walking from boma to boma—Maasai household to household—vaccinating domestic dogs as a member of the Serengeti Health Initiative field team, it’s impossible not to be awestruck by the beauty of the landscape that surrounds Piyaya village east of Serengeti National Park.
Perched on top of rolling hills, the bomas are wonderfully isolated in a land that seems forgotten by time. A buffer zone between the national park and cultivated agricultural areas, the landscape is dotted with wildlife such as zebras, migrating wildebeest and numerous species of gazelle. Possibly as a direct result of the Serengeti Health Initiative vaccination program, it’s now also possible to see packs of critically endangered African wild dogs out hunting.
It was somewhat appropriate, therefore, that our momentous milestone of 1 million dogs vaccinated against rabies, distemper and parvo virus would finally be reached in a boma in Piyaya village close to the dens of wild dogs.
The milestone has come after 10 years of hard work! Each year our field team of five dedicated Tanzanians spends more than 300 days away from their families and homes to drive more than 20,000 miles on very rough roads to administer 100,000 vaccines to dogs that live in human communities surrounding the national park. As a direct result of these efforts we’ve reduced human, domestic-animal and wild-animal rabies in the target areas in and around the Serengeti to ZERO. Also from zero in 2003, the number of African wild dogs living in the national park has been increasing. Most recent estimates suggest there are now more than 200 African wild dogs living in 14 packs in the ecosystem.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Congratulations to everyone at Lincoln Park Zoo and in Tanzania who works tirelessly to ensure the Serengeti Health Initiative is able to carry out such important work.
Felix Lankester, D.V.M., is Lincoln Park Zoo’s director of Tanzanian programs.
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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