17 May 2010 - Last month, 11-16 April, the Kenya Wildlife Service conducted a training workshop on Wildlife Capture for Disease Surveillance with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR). This workshop was conducted at the Morendat Training and Conference Center in Naivasha, Kenya and was attended by twenty four wildlife biologists and veterinarians from twelve different African countries.
Wildlife veterinarians focus on the management of diseases carried by wild animals, particularly those that are a threat to conservation of a species or impact livestock and human health. These include such diseases as Rinderpest, Rift Valley Fever, Rabies and Brucellosis. As the human populations of African nations increase, more and more people and their domestic animals are moving into wildlife inhabited areas, this leads to the destruction of wildlife habitat and disturbs the natural ecology. These interactions between wild animals, domestic stock and people, therefore, are growing in frequency and this provides opportunities for disease agents to move between these different populations. Other factors out of the control of national governments like climate change are also playing a role in changing vector (mosquitoes and ticks) distribution and disease occurrence, creating the opportunity for diseases to spread to new areas and hosts. "The monitoring of wildlife diseases is important not only from a conservation perspective, but also critical for the protection of agricultural livelihoods and human health." says Dr. Tracy McCracken, a wildlife veterinarian from the FAO.
The visiting wildlife specialists spent two days in the classroom learning animal capture techniques, followed by additional days working in the field alongside KWS veterinarians capturing live animals to collect samples for disease monitoring activities. These wildlife specialists will return to their respective countries with increased knowledge on how to practically search for diseases carried by wild animals in their region. This training workshop will help to increase the capacity for wildlife disease monitoring throughout Africa, improving conservation efforts and protecting both livestock and human health. "Kenya Wildlife Service will always be ready to share its expertise in this area through holding such workshops and offering technical support when called upon" stated Dr. Francis Gakuya, Head of Veterinary and Capture Services Department, KWS.
This workshop was organized by FAO and the KWS with the contribution of the EU (OSRO/RAF/802/EC).