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Wildlife Disease Sampling Project

The Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust is based in a unique area of the Victoria Falls National Park, which is also a World Heritage Site. The entire village of Victoria Falls is situated in this National Park, and due to this, wildlife roams freely, in and around the town. Furthermore, bordering areas include not only the Zambezi National Park, and Matetsi Safari areas, but communal lands as well. This interesting dynamic has led to wildlife, humans, and domestic livestock becoming habituated within a close proximity of each other.  VFWT, working together with the local wildlife authorities and the Department of Veterinary Services, Wildlife Unit, has undertaken to initiate a disease sampling program in the Victoria Falls area and other wildlife conservation areas in Zimbabwe.

Wildlife that is darted for snare removal or human inflicted injuries has samples taken for analysis.  Animals that die and the cause of death is unknown are post mortemed and the carcass is sampled. Samples such as blood, tissue and faeces are routinely taken for analysis, as well as organ samples in cases of death to look at the histo-pathology. VFWT samples domestic animals as well as wildlife. As many of the diseases that affect wildlife are transferable to domestic animals, one of the easiest ways to monitor disease prevalence is to analyze samples taken from livestock, cats and dogs. Domestic animals that live along interface areas with wildlife are most affected and therefore targeted surveillance for a range of diseases is conducted regularly.

These samples are processed and tested for diseases such as Foot and Mouth, Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Mycoplasma, Distemper, Ehrlichia, Leptospira, Rabies, Theilleria, Anthrax and a range of other diseases commonly found in the region.  

Through this process, better decisions on management policies for areas can be maintained and potential disease outbreaks may be monitored and hopefully, contained. Treatable diseases can also be identified and infected animals treated.   Communal lands and areas in which livestock are at a higher risk of infection need to be vaccinated for some of these communicable diseases.  This sampling program is vital for controlling the general health of wildlife living within the vicinity of populated areas ensuring an amenable existence for all.

For more information about any of the Disease Surveillance please contact us at info@vicfallswildlifetrust.org