Mara North Conservancy Dog Project

Project Leaders:

Rikke Langebæk, DVM, PhD (on behalf of Karen Blixen Camp Trust), Copenhagen University

Gabriel Turasha, BVM (VetAid Kenya)

 

Project Advisors:

Stephen DeVincent, DVM, MA (Karen Blixen Camp Trust)

Nick Short, BVSc, MSc (VetAid United Kingdom)

Jesper Stagegaard, PhD (Karen Blixen Camp/Karen Blixen Camp Trust)

 

This project is based on the research findings from the student project Free-ranging Dogs

Phase 1 will include the dog population within Mara North Conservancy (MNC), with an estimate of 2,000-3,000 dogs.

The project will include vaccinations against rabies and distemper*, de-worming of dogs, and treatment of mange.The encouragement and performing of spays and castrations of dogs are also principal aspects of the project. Relevant drugs and supplies will be purchased by Gabriel Turasha, BVM, VetAid Kenya.

Awareness will be created amongst village elders and pupils in schools (primary/secondary) through public talks about dog health and population control in local schools and villages. The program leaders will utilize long-term experience in rabies vaccine programsin the region to enhance the probability that dog owners will keep appointments for administering vaccinations and spay/castrations. Collaboration between VetAid and the schools in Mararienta is under development through the local veterinarian, James Leyian.

Spay/castration clinics

The spays and castrations will be carried out on owned dogs on a voluntary, informed basis as well as on stray dogs located in the town areas. The surgeries will take place in buildings based upon regulations that provide specifications by the Kenya veterinary board. Surgeries will be performed by selected private veterinarians and (when in residence) veterinary students from Kenya, Denmark, United Kingdom, and the United States under the supervision of veterinarians from the respective countries.

Before performing the surgeries, students will participate in a surgical workshop held at Karen Blixen Camp (http://karenblixencamp.com) under arrangement with Karen Blixen Camp Trust (KBCT) (http://karenblixencamptrust.org).

Students from abroad enroll in the project through VetAid Kenya (http://vetaid.co.ke/) and the cost of enrollment in a session is 1,000£. The enrollment fee includes lodging, food and on-land transportation. The duration of each session for students will be 9 days, which will include the workshop, spay/castration clinic, and a vaccination program.

Students from abroad will be accommodated in Karen Blixen Camp. Special arrangements will be made for students from Kenya.

Project inspired by field study from Aarhus University

In 2014 a field study was conducted by Master Student Nicolai Elmo Jensen from Aarhus University (http://maasaimarascience.org/student-projects/free-ranging-dogs/in order to investigate the possible impact of dogs on wildlife in Mara North Conservancy (MNC). The study concluded that a guard dog management program for the neighboring communities is urgently needed in order to prevent the deleterious effect of dogs on the wildlife, and consequently on the future management plans and conservation of this unique area, as well as financial benefits for the local landowners.

Maasai community positive about guard dog vaccination program

Photo: Rikke Langebæk

Dr. Gabriel Turasha and Dr. James Leyian has done a great job together with David Noosaron from the MNC Landowners’ Committee in preparing the local dog-owners for the up-coming MNC Dog program.

Through talks and discussions in barazzas, church and school meetings they have explained the importance of vaccinating and de-worming the dogs and also the benefits of castrating and neutering.

As a result of these meetings, the general attitude in the community towards the initiative has become very positive. Only a handful of families are still hesitating, but the team is optimistic and hopes to reach the aim of 75% vaccinated dogs, that is necessary to obtain so-called herd-immunization (enough individuals are immune to the disease to prevent big outbreaks in the population).

First guard dogs castrated

Project leader, associate professor Rikke Langebæk from Department of Veterinary Clinical Science, Copenhagen University was in November 2018 in Mara North Conservancy to oversee the MNC Dog Project.

On Thursday nov. 8th, the MNC Dog Project team was in action in Mararienta. Dr. Gabriel Turasha (from VetAid, Kenya) and Dr. James Leyian (based in Mararienta) was joined by veterinary surgeons from Egerton University, Kenya: Prof. Mande, Dr. Kisipan and Dr. Kerempa in order to do surgery on the male dogs in one of the households.

The  dogs were anesthetized by injection and surgery was initiated within approximately 10 minutes. The ‘clinic’ was comprised of a plastic table placed in the shade under a tree, plus a smaller table for the surgical equipment. The castration was performed under as aseptic conditions as possible, and the procedure was done in 20 minutes. The dogs were given painkillers and prophylactic antibiotics, and were supervised while recovering from anesthesia.

In spite of the remoteness of the surgical setting, the procedures attracted quite an audience. This is very helpful, as the lack of ‘drama’ in relation to the surgeries will hopefully encourage more owners to let their dogs undergo neutralization.

Photo: Rikke Langebæk
Photo: Rikke Langebæk
Photo: Rikke Langebæk
Photo: Rikke Langebæk