The Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) One Health Initiative will address multivariable needs of the communities that we work with. This new initiative will work to address the interconnected health of the people, their livestock and the free-living wildlife. Our initial focus for this initiative is rabies awareness and rabies prevention activities. According to the World Health Organization there are roughly 60,000 reported deaths from rabies, with the majority of the cases (95%) occurring in Asia and Africa, and 99% of transmission comes from domestic dogs. To face this very real threat the first activity under our One Health Initiative is a rabies awareness and vaccination campaign, focusing on the Hereroland communities in Eastern Namibia. Our awareness campaign began on World Rabies Day (September 28) in 2018, with the production and distribution of education materials. The second phase is the acquisition of a vehicle that will be outfitted and serve as the platform for a mobile vaccination clinic that will eventually provide spay/neuter procedures for companion animals. CCF’s Community Development and Veterinary teams will operate the mobile clinic to provide rabies prevention awareness education and free/low costs vaccinations for dogs and cats within the community, setting up a monthly calendar to provide education and services to maximize the impact for community members. By providing this service to these isolated communities CCF will reduce the risk of rabies transmission, save lives and protect both domestic and wildlife species. The goal of this project is to empower the communities to prevent rabies transmission and in the long term eradicate rabies in the region.
The snow leopard has been recently categorized as vulnerable, it is top of the food chain in the Himalayas and is a species of global conservation concen. Recently, common leopard have also been recorded from the range of snow leopard and the range of the Himalayan grey wolf also overlaps that of snow leopard. All these species attack livestock. The habitats where these species occur is also the grazing land of the livestock of the local people. Livestock husbandary is the primary livelihood for these people who live in some of the world’s most remote villages. A serious conflict situation arises when livestock is attacked by one of these predators. The livestock owners tend to focus on the snow leopards as the cause of their loss and herders may resort to the retaliatory killing of snow leopards by poisoning the carcasses of snow leopard prey or setting foot traps. These actions have caused a decline in the numbers of snow leopard. This conflict situation could be resolved if local people were made aware of the importance of using improved corrals and using then when predators are most likely to be active. For example; if Yak calves were corraled before sunrise, predation would be reduced. The situation could be further improved if the herders were made aware of habitat selection by predators. Therefore, we have designed the program to initiate a herders network, to support them with portable corrals to enclose calves and to improve permanent corrals (predator proof) for adult livestock, to distribute predator repellent lights and to initiate an awareness program for the herders (provision of maps indicating zones vulnerable to higher levels of predation and information about predator activity cycle etc. ). These programs will be piloted in Gnwal and Ghyaru villages within Annapurna Conservation Area and then extended to other remote villages in Manang and Mustang .
Poaching presents a huge threat to not only painted dogs but also all wildlife in the so-called “buffer zone” surrounding Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Large predators such as lion and hyena are also particularly vulnerable as they often scavenge from snare lines and indeed can be targeted deliberately. As the socioeconomic situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, pressures that drive poaching are escalating. Unemployment levels have reached new heights and with the majority of people in the region depending on erratic rainfalls, simply to survive at a subsistence level, they turn to illegal hunting practises.
The situation is deteriorating rapidly as highlighted by the recent outbreak of poaching with cyanide. Indeed a pack of nine painted dogs were recently found dead at a waterhole poisoned with cyanide. This new threat to carnivores is likely to increase as a result of the use of cyanide because of the scavenging done the carcasses left behind by the cyanide poachers.
The lack of recourse available to Zimbabwe’s Parks & Wildlife Management Authority exacerbates this dire situation. Poachers have enjoyed virtually unrestricted access to areas such as Dete, Ngamo and Tchotcholo, from which they have been able to move freely deep inside Hwange National Park. Poaching snares kill large animals indiscriminately, and the practice is threatening to decimate the small surviving populations of threatened species, many of which are already facing pressures of extinction through habitat destruction and climate change. The recent increase in the use of poisons such as cyanide further complicates the issue and there is dire need for a reliable informant network to be established.