The pastoral peoples in Northern Kenya, against all odds manage to keep very healthy and plentiful herds of livestock. In the past this was not an issue, however, now the land can no longer sustain such large numbers due to the population increase which has led to overgrazing and land degradation. As a result of this, one of the trusts priorities has been to encourage quality of livestock over quantity. Our programme aims to provide guidance on sustainable management of their herds as well as training on proper drug use and administration. Importantly, dogs play a vital role in the peoples daily life therefore they are a main focus in our veterinary programme.
Livestock herders rely on dogs to help protect their flocks 24/7. During the day, they shepherd the herd and deter predators looking for an easy meal when out grazing. Furthermore, at night an alert dog will give early warning of any predators or livestock rustlers attempting to break into stockade’s. Naturally, healthier dogs will be more effective in reducing in the never-ending human-wildlife conflict, as less livestock are being killed by predators. This is extremely important in an area where lion, leopard and cheetah numbers are increasing.
What We Are Dealing With
Rabies outbreaks are an ongoing challenge which can be catastrophic for people, domestic animals and wildlife. People who are bitten either by domestic or wild animals tend to travel to the nearest clinic, which can be many miles. They must then pay up to ksh’s 13000 ($130) for emergency treatment. Often animals did not even have rabies, but still people took the precaution due to high rabies prevalence. The presence of rabies in an area creates distrust between owner and dog. In the past the authorities way of dealing with this issue has been to bait large tracts of land with poisoned meat, this is cruel and not sustainable and kills anything that eats the meat. Our approach, we hope, is more of a longterm sustainable solution.
We have a vet unit who constantly circuit communities providing inoculations and veterinary advice. Each year they inject as many of the dogs as possible with the rabies vaccine. We also give an ivomectin shot to each dog that combats worms and other parasites and we encourage and provide sterilisation if the owner would like. This is resulting in overall much healthier and happier animals!
Our coverage depends on where the nomadic communities are. They can be difficult to reach if they have gone further afield in search of pastures. We endeavour to vaccinate nearly 80% of dogs in the area, this is the coverage required to stem the spread of rabies. Records are carefully kept to ensure that the animals are vaccinated yearly, and each owner receives a vet card for each of their animals.
This program has greatly eased the awful tension of living with rabies and has been able to give the people peace of mind.
Main supporters of this project: