AHEAD Update – April 2008

Dear AHEAD Colleagues:

*I should again note that if you wish to be removed from this e-mail list please just let me know. My hope is to keep parties interested in Animal Health for the Environment And Development up-to-date on developments post-Durban World Parks Congress over time, but I certainly understand if anyone wants to opt out of receiving such messages. Updates are also posted (and archived) on the AHEAD website at www.wcs-ahead.org. Please note that URL hotlinks for many of the organizations mentioned below can be found at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/links.html.

If you would like to post an item in the next AHEAD Update, please just send it to me- thanks!

* 8th AHEAD (Animal Health for the Environment And Development) Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) Working Group (WG) meeting held March 5, 6 and 7th, 2008 in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, near Kruger National Park. The diverse cross-sectoral challenges of ensuring a successful reconnection of protected areas across other land-use types and international borders are more obvious than ever, and discussions among the record more than 70 attendees (sometimes heated, always cordial!) focused on such issues as foot and mouth disease control, community-based animal health and natural resources management, disease surveillance and data-sharing, HIV/AIDS and zoonotic diseases, governance, resettlement, poverty alleviation, food security, gender roles, scenarios-based planning, and fencing- just to name a few hot topics! One of the unique things that has come to characterize AHEAD Great Limpopo Working Group fora is the unusual (and refreshing) mix of senior government officials from the agriculture, conservation, and public health sectors along with managers, researchers, and a diverse array of young graduate students and NGO employees grappling with specific issues in the places where they work in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (and beyond). With the new funding from the Rockefeller and MacArthur Foundations to catalyze problem-solving by Great Limpopo stakeholders, AHEAD GLTFCA continues to mature into a critical regional mechanism for addressing the key conservation and development challenges facing the vision of a vast, tri-national transfrontier conservation area. Congratulations to SANParks' Dr. Nicky Shongwe, AHEAD GLTFCA Working Group Coordinator, on the ongoing progress she has continued to catalyze. PDFs of most of the Powerpoint presentations from the diverse agenda of the 8th AHEAD GLTFCA WG meeting will shortly be available online at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/workinggrps_limpopo.html. The final minutes from the 8th meeting of the AHEAD Great Limpopo TFCA Working Group will be emailed to AHEAD GLTFCA WG members and posted on the website in PDF as soon as they are finalized.

* AHEAD Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) Seed Grants Program Request for Proposals (RFP) now available- proposals due June 16th, '08 (except for 'fast track' submissions, which are due April 15th, '08 as per previous correspondence and discussion with the AHEAD GLTFCA Working Group). Please see RFP for details. AHEAD GLTFCA seed grants are being made available largely to help regional partners expedite implementation of the priority projects they themselves have been collaboratively undertaking and developing since AHEAD’s launch in 2003. Please see
for a downloadable PDF of the detailed RFP.

* HALI (Health for Animals and Livelihood 
Improvement) Project, Tanzania- HALI
Team members continue to use an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the health and economic impacts of zoonotic and waterborne diseases in wildlife, livestock, and people in the Ruaha ecosystem, Tanzania. They have been testing wildlife, livestock and shared water sources for the presence of zoonotic diseases. During their first year of research, Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, was isolated from 2 of 19 wildlife samples (a buffalo and an impala) collected in the community based wildlife management area (WMA) south of Ruaha National Park. This is the first isolation of bovine tuberculosis infection in buffalo and impala in Tanzania and the first confirmation of bovine tuberculosis infection in wildlife in southern Tanzania. Testing of cattle from villages that border the WMA confirmed that bovine tuberculosis infection was also present in livestock. HALI, a research and capacity-building collaboration among the University of California Davis Wildlife Health Center, Sokoine University of Agriculture, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the University of Vermont Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, is working with livestock owners, hunters, and game scouts to educate them about the risk of zoonotic tuberculosis while disseminating results to other key stakeholders including Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), the Veterinary Investigation Centre-Iringa, the Rufiji Basin Water Office, the community-based wildlife management association for the Pawaga-Idodi Wildlife Management Area (MBOMIPA), and village and regional leaders. The team is continuing to collect samples from wildlife to determine the prevalence and species distribution of infection, and to identify geographic areas where risk of bovine tuberculosis transmission between wildlife and livestock may be high. Since the last AHEAD Update, HALI is also pleased to report the hiring of field coordinator Dr. Harrison Sadiki. Dr. Sadiki is a veterinarian and graduate of Sokoine University. He recently completed his Master’s investigating bovine tuberculosis in cattle and humans. 
HALI is funded by the USAID GL-CRSP (Global 
ivestock Collaborative Research Support Program).

* New approach to open-access wildlife disease surveillance data-sharing-  I wanted to make sure AHEAD colleagues and other interested parties were aware that WCS and partners have now developed a global, open-access, geo-referenced database for sharing animal health data. This new tool is particularly relevant to the data-sharing needs implicit in a successful TFCA initiative. The pilot phase of this geo-referenced database, as per www.gains.org, focuses on wild birds and avian influenza, as the funding was under the wild bird Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (GAINS) initiative. GAINS, like AHEAD, is part of the "One World, One Health" suite of initiatives. The underlying architecture of this data management system is called WISDOM- the Wildlife Information System for Disease Observation and Monitoring- and it can accommodate any species / any disease / different types of samples and results. (If you are wondering about my contribution- yes, I am in charge of acronyms!) I encourage any of you to log onto www.gains.org and explore its various capabilities. Anyone is welcome to register free of charge and work with the site and data (as well as contribute data), including utilization of the Data Explorer and Map Explorer functionalities. The system also captures bird location and migration data (there are over 105 million points of data for a wide range of avian species from 95 or more countries already in the database, contributed by a range of governmental and nongovernmental partners around the world). In addition, GPS satellite transmitters and thousands of ID markers have been placed on birds worldwide to improve knowledge of migratory movement patterns, for example. All this to say, we are working on identifying other applications for this significant investment in wildlife health data-sharing, which we have been able to make available free of charge thanks to various donors (including USAID and the CDC), and we would welcome any input / ideas from AHEAD collaborating institutions / individuals.

* AHEAD to begin exploring potential collaborations with WISP- World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism-  WISP is a project of the Global Environment Facility, implemented by UNDP, co-funded by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and executed by IUCN, the World Conservation Union. It is a global knowledge and advocacy network that promotes sustainable pastoral development for both poverty reduction and sustainable environmental management. WISP is also a catalytic partnership and works at global, regional and national levels to improve the understanding of pastoralism and options for legal and policy support for pastoralism. WISP works with partners throughout the world to enable learning from their experiences, to share good practice, to build capacities for knowledge management, and to advocate for pastoralism as an integral tool for sustainable natural resource management in the drylands. For more information on WISP, including the latest publications, please visit www.iucn.org/wisp.

* AHEAD, livestock policy, and the economics of pastoralism in Tanzania- AHEAD has been supporting two consultancies in Tanzania that address knowledge gaps in our understanding of policy issues impacting pastoralism and rangeland management. Carried out under the auspices of a local NGO, the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (http://www.tnrf.org/), one consultancy is examining how rangeland policy is made in Tanzania, and the other is looking at the total economic value of pastoralism in the country- and how best to measure this. Both reports will be made available in 2008, as soon as they are finalized.

*New journal seeks submissions- Transboundary and Emerging Diseases brings together the latest research on infectious animal diseases considered to represent the greatest threats to animals worldwide. The journal provides a venue for global research on diagnosis, prevention and management, and for papers on veterinary public health, pathogenesis, epidemiology, statistical modeling, diagnostics, biosecurity issues, genomics, vaccine development and rapid communication of new outbreaks. This international journal will be of vital interest to scientists and practitioners working in the field of infectious diseases, including veterinarians, animal scientists, agricultural scientists, policy makers, wildlife workers, the public health community, and conservationists. For more information and online submission options, please see

*Request for information on wildlife poisonings from WildlifeDirect- Paula Kahumbu writes "As you are probably aware, poisoning of wildlife is becoming a major threat to predators and scavengers across the African continent. Based on anecdotal information, we feel that the situation is severe if not critical for some species (vultures, lions and some wading birds in particular).
If you check out the lion guardians blog (www.wildlifedirect.org/blogAdmin/lionguardians)
and the EAWLS blog
they both discuss the impact that this is having on lions and vultures. We feel that it’s a major concern and to address this, WildlifeDirect with EAWLS and others have started a Facebook network called PAWI (Poisoning African Wildlife Investigations) to collate information on the poisoning of wildlife in Africa (and beyond). We intend to use the network to gather data (map locations and types of poisoning / related issues), and I would appreciate it if we could tap into your network of vets and researchers/conservationists to invite them to participate. After about 6 months we will analyse the data and then launch a campaign to address key issues – education/awareness, legislation, information, enforcement and forensics." Please contact paula@wildlifedirect.org for more details.

*International EcoHealth Forum 2008: 2nd Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology & Health, December 2008- AHEAD collaborating institutions / individuals are encouraged to participate- see
for details.

* CIRAD, Centre de coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement,  has recently been added to the LINKs section of the AHEAD website at 

We are pleased to now have a link in place to this important collaborating institution.

If you have items for the next AHEAD Update, please just let me know – thanks.

All the best,