The sixth meeting of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA)working group of Ahead (Animal Health for the Environment and Development) has brought wildlife experts one step closer to protecting the health of people and animals who live in and alongside one of Southern Africa's greatest conservation initiatives. The meeting was held at Skukuza on October 19 and 20, 2005.
With cross-boundary conservation areas being a relatively new concept, new solutions are necessary to prevent the spread of animal diseases, particularly those that affect both animals and humans, over international borders.
Veterinarians, ecologists, economists, wildlife managers and other experts have been meeting regularly since the 2003 World Parks Congress to address the issues that arise wherever people, domestic animals and wildlife come into contact with each other.
Dr Roy Bengis, state veterinarian at Skukuza, said that the sixth meeting proved to have a strong direction. The working group plans to "tease out projects" from the issues and concepts they have identified, and will then look for funding to carry out these projects.
The earlier meetings have allowed participants from different countries to gain an understanding of how each country addresses animal health issues and of existing programmes that are already in place to monitor disease.
Many of the diseases under consideration by the working group, such as foot and mouth and bovine tuberculosis, have serious economic and human health implications if they spread across international borders.