With the recent development of cross-border conservation areas, animal health policies in different countries have to be merged so that diseases are not spread from one region to another.
Veterinarians, ecologists, economists, wildlife managers and other experts have merged to form Animal Health for the Environment and Development (Ahead). The organisation wants to collect scientific data to help manage international animal health issues.
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTCA) was one of Ahead's highest priorities, where wildlife populations cross international borders.
At a meeting in Mozambique it was decided that an environment should be created which would allow open collaboration and information sharing between the different conservation authorities.
A Wildlife Veterinary Unit will also be formed in Mozambique to help manage the wildlife in that country and to help standardise the monitoring and control of disease transmission between wildlife and domestic stock.
The main diseases that concern Ahead are those that affect both domestic livestock and wild animals, especially as there are currently around 20,000 people living in the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. They have livestock that includes cattle, goats, sheep, pigs as well as dogs and cats.
The merging of the domestic and wild animal populations means that diseases such as bovine tuberculosis, bovine brucellosis, foot and mouth disease, corridor disease, distemper, rabies and African swine fever must all be monitored. Bovine TB has been regularly monitored in Kruger, and some monitoring is now taking place in Mozambique.
Other monitoring projects in the KNP include studying TB in lions and kudu, as well as developing diagnostic tests for elephants. Other diseases are also regularly surveyed in the park. In Mozambique bovine TB, foot and mouth and brucellosis are all being monitored, along with tsetse fly populations. Zimbabwe is also involved in monitoring tsetse flies and foot and mouth in kudu and impala. A preliminary study of bovine TB in the communal lands is also underway.
Baseline data on diseases in domestic animals is now being gathered as part of Ahead's mandate, and proposals are being created to help manage disease where wildlife, humans and domestics animals live together. Ahead hopes to gain sufficient data to help inform management policies before the complete removal of border fences and animal translocations occurs.
GLTP Newsletter, 9/2004