AHEAD Update – July / August / September 2013

Dear AHEAD Colleagues:

*Welcome to the third AHEAD Update of 2013. 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 us- thanks.

Happy 10th Anniversary, AHEAD!

You know what they say, "Time flies when you're trying to facilitate cross-sectoral collaboration in the interest of win-win land-use opportunities that are good for people and good for wildlife." OK, so maybe none of us can recall who actually says that, but it's clearly true! AHEAD was launched back in 2003 at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. None of us involved at that time knew for sure where that launch would lead, but thanks to a group of dedicated colleagues from Africa and around the world, AHEAD has grown and, we hope, become a useful platform for trying to equitably and innovatively resolve land-use planning conflicts between livestock agriculture and wildlife conservation. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to the ongoing evolution and growth of AHEAD from a pioneering interdisciplinary concept into an exciting cross-sectoral program!


Is It Time to Take the Bull by the Horns?

This month, as the Botswana Parliamentary Select Committee winds up its investigation of the factors leading to the dramatic decline of the livestock industry and the collapse of the key beef exporter in Botswana, we reflect on some of the current challenges faced by agricultural policymakers in the region – in terms of animal disease control, competitiveness, and market access for livestock and livestock products – and we ponder the prospects of turning these challenges into opportunities for progress.

The recent decision by the Botswana Department of Veterinary Services to cull 30,000 sheep and goats in eastern Botswana, some of which have tested positive for foot and mouth disease (FMD), following the depopulation of 40,000 cattle in the area in 2011 for the same reason, illustrates how countries naturally burdened with diseases deemed trade-limiting find themselves constrained by international regulations that require livestock and livestock products (LLP) to originate from zones or compartments that are certified free of such diseases. In southern Africa, such ‘geographic’ approaches to disease management are increasingly being shown to be both ineffective and even detrimental (http://www.foot-and-mouth.org/open-documents/bulletin-fmdsa-back-issues/folder_contents), especially when viewed within the context of the desirability of sustainable economic growth, diversified rural development opportunities, and inter-generationally equitable environmental stewardship.

In 2011, amid several new outbreaks of FMD, and recognizing deficiencies in the country’s identification and trace-back system and irregularities in certification procedures, Botswana suspended its trade in beef with the EU. The economic impact of this decision has been significant, and the country’s commercial livestock industry is strongly urging the authorities to re-establish trade with the EU. However, meeting trade standards continues to be a challenge, a suitable ID system has yet to be implemented, and FMD remains uncontrolled in parts of the country. The question is, can policymakers in Botswana protect the health of the nation’s livestock and improve the livelihoods of both commercial and communal farmers in ways that do not threaten wildlife conservation objectives and associated economic opportunities, while at the same time work towards reopening trade with Europe? The likely answer is no. SADC countries are unable to compete with major beef exporters in, for example, Latin America without generous subsidies. In addition, European trading partners have requirements that exceed globally agreed international standards, demand significant investment (in environmentally destructive fencing, for example), and preclude the export of LLP from several areas in the country where communal cattle farmers are most numerous and the need for market access is greatest.

What can be done to address the situation? In Botswana, where both agriculture and tourism remain key sectors of the economy, a real opportunity exists to take a step back and look holistically at optimizing land-uses, to more fully recognize the economic importance of multiple sectors, and to evaluate realistic scenarios for a sustainable future. Instead of redoubling its efforts to re-enter the EU beef market by a return to strict zonation (possibly at the expense of wildlife-based rural development initiatives and ecologically rational land-use choices), now may be the perfect time for Botswana to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and follow a different path.

Regional demand for protein is growing, but due to the restrictive sanitary policy environment, countries like Angola, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, all net importers of beef, are frequently unable to take advantage of neighboring home grown products. Botswana’s beef industry stands to benefit by focusing on becoming locally competitive and targeting emerging and increasingly lucrative regional markets. At the same time, veterinary authorities should begin working towards the implementation and application of non-geographic (i.e.- those not completely reliant on fencing) disease management strategies in parts of the country where agriculture and wildlife-based land uses overlap, thereby simultaneously addressing animal health concerns while supporting conservation initiatives – thus providing diversified economic opportunities for rural communities (http://www.wcs-ahead.org/phakalane_declaration.html).

Changing disease management strategies and policies that have been in place for more than half a century is no simple task. However, as recently acknowledged by the Minister of Agriculture, Botswana can no longer afford to do what is required to meet the requirements of European trading partners, and needs to think seriously about seeking market opportunities closer to home. Perhaps starting afresh, with a multi-sectoral perspective and a focus on meeting the requirements of local and regional markets, could help Botswana’s cattle farmers get back on track in a way that is compatible with southern Africa's globally unique environmental heritage.


*New paper – Evaluating the Potential for the Environmentally Sustainable Control of Foot and Mouth Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa (2013), Ferguson KJ, Cleaveland S, Haydon DT, Caron A, Kock RA, Lembo T, Hopcraft JGC, Chardonnet B, Nyariki T, Keyyu J, Paton DJ, and Kivaria FM. Ecohealth, doi:10.1007/s10393-013-0850-6 – Strategies to control transboundary animal diseases do not always address environmental and local human population concerns associated with the containment, control and eradication of pathogens. Integrating perspectives from across disciplines, including the livestock, veterinary and conservation sectors, is necessary for identifying disease control strategies that optimise environmental goods and services at the wildlife-livestock interface. Prompted by the recent development of a global strategy for the control and elimination of foot and mouth disease (FMD), this paper provides an insight into the consequences of, and rational options for, potential FMD control measures in relation to environmental and human poverty considerations in Africa. We suggest a more environmentally nuanced process of FMD control that safeguards the integrity of wild populations and the ecosystem dynamics on which human livelihoods depend, while simultaneously improving the socio-economic condition of rural people by implementing more context-specific, practical strategies for FMD control. In particular, we outline five major issues that need to be considered. We conclude that the mobility and connectivity of wildlife populations and landscape elements are critically shared fulcra for livestock development and conservation advancement in savanna Africa. To access the full paper, see http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10393-013-0850-6 and then click on “Download PDF.”

*New book – Fencing for Conservation: Restriction of Evolutionary Potential or a Riposte to Threatening Processes? (2012), Somers MJ and Hayward M (eds.), Springer, New York, 320 pp. – The methodologies for, and approaches to, the use of fences by conservationists vary, and range from the intensive fencing practices in places such as South Africa, to the complete avoidance of fences in other places such as parts of East Africa. Some may argue that biodiversity conservation is not possible without fences, while others argue that the fencing in of biodiversity simply creates zoos and restricts evolutionary potential. This book reviews some of the issues regarding fencing for conservation and summarises the current state of knowledge and practice, describing numerous case studies from around the world. AHEAD readers will likely find many chapters of interest including but not limited to Chapter 9, “Barriers, the Beef Industry and Unnatural Selection: A Review of the Impact of Veterinary Fencing of Mammals in Southern Africa” (Gadd ME), and Chapter 12, “Ecological, Social and Financial Issues Related to Fencing as a Conservation Tool in Africa” (Lindsey PA, Masterson CL, Beck AL, and Romanach S).
For more information, see http://www.springer.com/978-1-4614-0901-4.

*New paper – Conserving Large Populations of Lions - the Argument for Fences has Holes (2013), Creel S et al. Ecology Letters, online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/ele.12145 – Packer et al. reported that fenced lion populations attain densities closer to carrying capacity than unfenced populations. However, fenced populations are often maintained above carrying capacity, and most are small. Many more lions are conserved per dollar invested in unfenced ecosystems, which avoid the ecological and economic costs of fencing. To access the full paper, see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12145/full.

*New One Health book chapterwritten specifically to try to catch medical students early-on in their careers, to encourage them to think more holistically about the profession they are embarking upon. While many of the topics described will certainly not be new to those well-versed in One Health, the editors of Jekel's Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health asked us to provide this material so that one of the most widely used epidemiology / public health texts in North American medical schools will, for the first time, offer a One Health perspective. We hope that over time it has the desired effect, that a broader constituency can continue to be built. Citation: Barrett MA and Osofsky SA (2013), “One Health: Interdependence of People, Other Species, and the Planet,” pp. 364-377 (and online supplement pp. 407(e1)-416(e10) at http://www.studentconsult.com), in Katz DL, Elmore JG, Wild DMG, and Lucan SC (eds.) Jekel’s Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Preventive Medicine, and Public Health (4th ed.). Elsevier / Saunders, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

*New paper - Rabies, Canine Distemper, and Canine Parvovirus Exposure in Large Carnivore Communities from Two Zambian Ecosystems (2013), Berentsen AR, Dunbar MR, Becker MS, M’soka J, Droge E, Sakuya NM, Matandiko W, McRobb R, and Hanlon CA. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, online ahead of print, doi:10.1089/vbz.2012.1233 – Disease transmission within and among wild and domestic carnivores can have significant impacts on populations, particularly for threatened and endangered species. We used serology to evaluate potential exposure to rabies virus, canine distemper virus (CDV), and canine parvovirus (CPV) for populations of African lions (Panthera leo), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park (SLNP) and Liuwa Plain National Park (LPNP) as well as community lands bordering these areas. In addition, domestic dogs in the study region were evaluated for exposure to CDV and rabies. We provide the first comprehensive disease exposure data for these species in these ecosystems. Twenty-one lions, 20 hyenas, 13 wild dogs, and 38 domestic dogs were sampled across both regions from 2009 to 2011. Laboratory results show 10.5% of domestic dogs, 5.0% of hyenas, and 7.7% of wild dogs sampled were positive for CDV exposure. All lions were negative. Exposure to CPV was 10.0% and 4.8% for hyenas and lions, respectively. All wild dogs were negative, and domestic dogs were not tested due to insufficient serum samples. All species sampled were negative for rabies virus neutralizing antibodies except lions. Forty percent of lions tested positive for rabies virus neutralizing antibodies. Because these lions appeared clinically healthy, this finding is consistent with seroconversion following exposure to rabies antigen. To our knowledge, this finding represents the first ever documentation of rabies virus neutralizing antibodies consistent with rabies exposure that did not lead to clinical disease in free-ranging African lions from this region. With ever-increasing human pressure on these ecosystems, understanding disease transmission dynamics is essential for proper management and conservation of these carnivore species. For more information, see http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/vbz.2012.1233.

*New paper – The Economic Impacts of Tourism in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa: Is Poverty Subsiding? (2013), Muchapondwa E and Stage J. Natural Resources Forum 37(2) pp. 80-89, doi:10.1111/1477-8947.12007 – This study examines how tourism in southern Africa (much of which is based on the region’s wildlife and natural capital) contributes to sustainable development objectives, such as poverty eradication and overall income generation, by assessing social accounting matrices to compare the economic impacts of tourism in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Although tourism’s contribution to GDP ranged from 6% in South Africa to 9% in Namibia, South Africa’s economy was found to be the most diversified, with more of the goods and services related to the tourism industry being provided domestically, making the impact per rand larger for tourism in South Africa than the other two countries. In all three countries, poorer people received a smaller share of tourist income than their overall share of national income. For more information,see http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1477-8947.12007.

*New paper – Tuberculosis Infection in Wildlife from the Ruaha Ecosystem Tanzania: Implications for Wildlife, Domestic Animals, and Human Health (2013), Clifford DL, Kazwala RR, Sadiki H, Roug A, Muse EA, Coppolillo PC, and Mazet JAK. Epidemiology and Infection 141 pp. 1371-1381, doi:10.1017/S0950268813000836 – Mycobacterium bovis, a pathogen of conservation, livestock, and public health concern, was detected in eight species of wildlife inhabiting protected areas bordering endemic livestock grazing lands. We tested tissues from 179 opportunistically sampled hunter-killed, depredation, road-killed, and live-captured wild animals, representing 30 species, in and adjacent to Ruaha National Park in south-central Tanzania. Tissue culture and PCR were used to detect 12 (8.1%) M. bovis-infected animals and 15 (10.1%) animals infected with non-tuberculosis complex mycobacteria. Kirk's dik-dik, vervet monkey, and yellow baboon were confirmed infected for the first time. The M. bovis spoligotype isolated from infected wildlife was identical to that found in local livestock, providing evidence for livestock–wildlife pathogen transmission. Thus we advocate an ecosystem-based approach for bovine tuberculosis management that improves critical ecological functions in protected areas and grazing lands, reduces focal population density build-up along the edges of protected areas, and minimizes ecological stressors that increase animals’ susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis.
See http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268813000836 for more information,
or http://journals.cambridge.org/repo_A886cSJx to view the paper.

*New paper – A Review of Bovine Tuberculosis at the Wildlife-Livestock-Human Interface in Sub-Saharan Africa (2013), De Garine-Wichatitsky M, Caron A, Kock R, Tschopp R, Munyeme M, Hofmeyr M, and Michel A. Epidemiology and Infection 141 pp. 1342-1356, doi:10.1017/S0950268813000708 – Infection of wild animals by bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is raising concern worldwide. This article reviews the current epidemiological situation, risk of emergence and control options at the wildlife-livestock-human interface in sub-Saharan Africa. In livestock, bTB has been confirmed in the majority of countries from all parts of the continent. Wildlife infection is confirmed in seven countries from southern and eastern Africa, apparently spreading in the southern Africa region. Mycobacterium bovis has been isolated from 17 wild mammal species, although only four are suspected to play a role as maintenance host. Zoonotic risks are a concern, but no direct spillover from wildlife to humans has been documented, and no case of bTB spillback from wildlife to livestock has been confirmed. In this paper we assess the main risk factors of bTB spillover at the wildlife-livestock-human interface and suggest several research themes which could improve the control of the disease in the African context. See http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268813000708 for more information.

*Wildlife Health Event Reporter available – The Wildlife Data Integration Network, a project at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine, hosts the Wildlife Health Event Reporter (WHER), a program for collecting and sharing wildlife health data from around the globe. The WHER system, which is open for public access, allows anyone to contribute observations about sick, injured, or dead wildlife and to sign-up for electronic alerts on reports of interest. The WHER website and recent consolidated reports can be viewed at http://www.wher.org. More information on the WHER project and its alert options is available at http://www.wdin.org/documents/wher/wher%20article%


*Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine (AITVM) 2013 International Conference, "The Livestock-Human-Wildlife Interface: Challenges in Animal Health and Production in Urban / Peri-Urban and Extensive Farming / Conservation Systems," Johannesburg, South Africa, August 25-29, 2013 – The AITVM is a foundation of 22 veterinary faculties and livestock institutions from Africa, Asia and Europe. Its objective is to improve human health and quality of life through increased and safe food production in tropical regions by enhancing opportunities for research, training and education in veterinary medicine and livestock production, within the framework of sustainable development. Every three years the AITVM organizes an international conference- in 2013, the 14th AITVM International Conference will be jointly hosted by the University of Pretoria's Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium and will be held at the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Please visit http://www.aitvm2013.org/ to register or contact Mrs. Petrie Vogel at petrie@savetcon.co.za for more information.


*The University of Edinburgh announces their MVetSci / Diploma / Certificate in Conservation Medicine by online distance learning – At the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies we aim to provide a truly dynamic learning experience in this online part-time distance learning programme, leading to either a Certificate, Diploma or Masters in Conservation Medicine. The programme is designed to address the demand for online training in conservation medicine and provides in-depth training in a modular flexible format, ideal for veterinarians who wish to achieve a world-class award while maintaining busy professional and personal commitments. The programme is delivered by recognised experts and benefits from the strong links with the Exotic Animal and Wildlife Unit within the R(D)SVS. A blend of online learning methods are utilised such as discussion forums, podcasts and live tutorials to create a dynamic and collaborative learning experience. You will become part of an online community bringing together students and tutors from all over the world. The programme is open to students with a recognised veterinary degree. For further information contact:

Anna Meredith (Programme Director)
Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Easter Bush Campus
Edinburgh, EH25 9RG Scotland, UK
Website: www.ed.ac.uk/vet/conservation-medicine
Email: Conservation.Medicine@ed.ac.uk
ph: +44(0)131 650 8783; fax: +44(0)131 650 6588


*Wyoming Excellence Chair in Disease Ecology – The Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Wyoming (USA) seeks a Wyoming Excellence Chair in Disease Ecology at the advanced Associate Professor or Full Professor rank (position #4543). We seek a candidate with disciplinary expertise in infectious disease, ecology, microbiology, or neuroscience, with emphasis on teaching and research of diseases shared by domestic animals and wildlife, including zoonotic diseases. Minimum requirements include a Ph.D. degree with a proven track record of nationally or internationally recognized faculty-level research focusing on relevant animal diseases. Preferred qualifications include a medical degree (DVM preferred, MD considered), research experience with zoonotic diseases, teaching expertise at the undergraduate and graduate level, and experience mentoring graduate students. Full position description, and information about the city of Laramie, is available at http://www.uwyo.edu/hr/hremployment/showjob.asp?jobid=291.

Again, if you have items for the next AHEAD Update, please just let us know – thanks.

"What is AHEAD?" Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development was launched at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. By assembling a ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across East and southern Africa, the Wildlife Conservation Society, IUCN, and a range of partners tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent- and AHEAD was born. Since then, a range of programs addressing conservation, health, and concomitant development challenges have been launched with the support of a growing list of implementing partners and donors who see the intrinsic value of what WCS has called the “One World, One Health” approach. AHEAD is a convening, facilitative mechanism, working to create enabling environments that allow different and often competing sectors to literally come to the same table and find collaborative ways forward to address challenges at the interface of wildlife health, livestock health, and human health and livelihoods. We convene stakeholders, help delineate conceptual frameworks to underpin planning, management and research, and provide technical support and resources for projects stakeholders identify as priorities. AHEAD recognizes the need to look at health and disease not in isolation but within a given region's environmental and socioeconomic context.

All the best,

Steve, Mark & Shirley