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.  In an effort to protect each sector, VFWT, working together with the Department of Veterinary Services, Wildlife Unit, has undertaken to initiate a disease sampling program. 

All wildlife that is darted for snare removal or human inflicted injuries has samples taken for analysis. Wildlife used for consumptive tourism purposes, as in hunting, is sampled by local professional hunters in the Matetsi Region.  In any deaths of wildlife in which the cause of death is unknown and disease is suspected; the carcass is sampled. These samples are processed and tested for diseases such as Foot and Mouth, Tuberculosis (when possible), and in rare instances Anthrax.  Samples such as hair, blood, and faeces are also sent to the University of Pretoria for programming into their vast Bio-Bank database and kept for analysis. This year we will be undertaking a large project for testing of bovine Tuberculosis and Foot and Mouth Disease in the Victoria Falls Region. For more information on this project please click here.

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 the laboratory please click here!