AHEAD Update – October / November / December 2013

*Welcome to the fourth and final 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.


At the end of this year we will say goodbye, and offer our deepest thanks, to AHEAD Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Mark Atkinson. Mark is returning to his adopted home in Nevada, ready to begin a new phase of his veterinary career. Compared to his multi-national, multi-time zone AHEAD mandate, I expect he will certainly be at home more, and I also imagine there will be a few triathlons in his near future. Representing the ‘Beyond Fences’ Program in southern Africa since 2010, with a field base in Botswana but with work across the sub-region, Mark has been instrumental in advancing the AHEAD Program's objectives, working tirelessly with local, regional and overseas colleagues to improve wildlife-livestock sectoral integration and foster innovative approaches to the policy harmonization so critical to sustainable land-use choices in southern Africa. Having focused on balancing the needs of wildlife conservation, rural development and livestock trade within the KAZA TFCA, Mark established strong ties with colleagues across sectors, and we look forward to benefiting from those sturdy relationships well into the future. Each of us of course has to strive for work / life balance, set priorities, and do what is best for one's heart and soul. I very much respect Mark for the decision he has made and truly support him, but that does not mean he won't be deeply missed.

I am thrilled to note that Shirley Atkinson remains an integral member of the AHEAD team, and will continue to play a vital and expanded role in our southern Africa work and across the WCS Wildlife Health & Health Policy portfolio. And while we are of course extremely saddened to see Mark leave WCS, we are delighted to announce that the AHEAD team has recently engaged the technical consulting services of Dr. Mokganedi Mokopasetso (aka ‘Mok’), and that Mark and Mok will have several months of productive overlap. A widely respected veterinarian from Botswana, Mok comes to us with unique animal health policy expertise and field experience at the livestock / wildlife interface. Dr. Mokopasetso previously worked with the Botswana Department of Veterinary Services and most recently, FAO-ECTAD (FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases), a component of the Regional Animal Health Centre (RAHC) for southern Africa hosted by the OIE Sub-Regional Representation in Gaborone, Botswana. Welcome aboard, Mok!

Sincerely, Steve


*New report – Contribution of Sustainable Natural Resource Management to Economic Growth and Poverty Eradication and the Achievement of NDP Goal 10, (2012), Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis, 164 pp. – This report, prepared for the Botswana Ministry of Finance and Development Planning as part of the UNDP/UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative, aims to provide an understanding of how natural resources contribute to employment and economic growth in Botswana and the ways in which improved natural resource use can contribute to poverty eradication. In order to achieve these objectives, the paper is guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) 10 goals that include the implementation of various strategies that involve promoting non-consumptive use of wildlife resources (e.g. photographic activities) and fostering the growth of wildlife and fish populations as a bedrock for tourism. To download the full report, see http://www.unpei.org/what-we-do/pei-countries/botswana (scroll down to the ‘key documents’ section).

The AHEAD website is now searchable – While it may seem like a relatively minor development, we've managed to overcome a technical glitch and now offer a search box on the AHEAD website. This search function allows users to find materials going back almost 10 years, including articles within previous AHEAD Updates, which previously could only be searched manually in the News Archive section. We hope this new feature proves useful to AHEAD website users, and we know you are out there: www.wcs-ahead.org received more than a million hits over the past year!!

*HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) Program website launchedWe are pleased to report that the new HEAL Program website (http://www.wcs-heal.org) has been launched. The HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) Program has been developed by WCS and a wide range of environmental conservation and public health partners (http://www.wcs-heal.org/about-heal/global-collaborators), and is in many ways AHEAD's younger sibling. HEAL's long term goal is to increase support for integrated public health and environmental conservation initiatives as intimately related, interdependent challenges. Such a cross-sectoral attitudinal change would ultimately help to improve public health outcomes, equity, and resilience for some of the world's poorest people, living in the world's most remote areas, while simultaneously conserving some of the most important natural landscapes and seascapes left on earth. We encourage you to delve into the website, which we hope illustrates the breadth and depth of this unique program. To date, there has not been any definitive examination of the relationship between the state of natural systems and human health. While anecdotal information is easy to come by, there are precious few examples of epidemiologically robust data that document relationships between significant ecological change and meaningful changes in human health outcomes. For its part, the public health community has not systematically considered the role that natural ecosystems may play in affecting human health. Similarly, the conservation community has not systematically considered how loss or conservation of natural ecosystems may be impacting public health. However, interest on both sides is increasing as awareness grows regarding the ways that management of natural systems may impact health and disease and associated societal costs. For further information, please contact Dr. Steve Osofsky sosofsky@wcs.org.

*New Paper – Differences in Primary Sites of Infection between Zoonotic and Human Tuberculosis: Results from a Worldwide Systematic Review (2013), Dürr S, Müller B, Alonso S, Hattendorf J, Laisse CJM, van Helden PD and Zinstagg J. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 7(8): e2399. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002399 – Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most devastating infectious diseases worldwide. The impact estimation of worldwide human TB is well established; however, that of TB transmitted by cattle, goats or sheep (i.e. zoonotic TB) is not. The affected body sites of human and zoonotic TB are repeatedly suggested to be different, which would influence the severity and impact of the diseases. The present study aimed to determine the association of affected body site(s) and zoonotic TB by a systematic global literature review. Data from 27 reports from Africa, America, Europe and the Western Pacific Region were included in the analysis. We found that the proportion of extrapulmonary TB was significantly higher in zoonotic TB than in human TB. Also, disparities of the specific body sites of extrapulmonary TB between zoonotic TB and human TB were detected. Our findings, which are based on global data, confirm the widely suggested association between zoonotic TB and extrapulmonary disease. Therefore, different measurements for estimating the impact of the two diseases should be considered. To access the full paper, see

*The Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium (www.driversofdisease.org) has published five research updates – one for each of the countries where its researchers are using interdisciplinary methods to explore the multiple drivers behind zoonotic disease emergence and transmission: henipavirus in Ghana, Rift Valley fever in Kenya, Lassa fever in Sierra Leone, and trypanosomiasis in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Each update outlines the background to the case study disease being investigated, describes the key questions researchers are exploring (along with some of the knowns and unknowns), and gives a brief outline of the methodologies being followed. The updates can be downloaded at http://steps-centre.org/2012/blog/latest-publications/.

*AHEAD Online Library expandedAHEAD’s free open-source online digital Zotero library, containing materials on policy and legislation related to animal health, disease and conservation in the southern Africa region (with subsections dedicated to fencing, control of transboundary animal diseases, and climate change), includes more than 1,450 relevant scientific reports, legislative and policy documents, occasional papers and reviews.
For an e-invitation to any of the AHEAD Zotero databases (required for access), please contact Shirley Atkinson satkinson@wcs.org
(also see http://www.wcs-ahead.org/kaza/kaza_additional_resources.html).

*Book reissued in paperback by popular demand – Human Health and Forests: A Global Overview of Issues, Practice and Policy (2008), edited by Carol J. Pierce Colfer, Routledge, 378 pp. – Hundreds of millions of people live and work in forests across the world. One vital aspect of their lives, largely unexamined, is the challenge of protecting and enhancing the unique relationship between the health of forests and the health of people. This book, written for a broad audience, is a comprehensive introduction to the issues surrounding the health of people living in and around forests, particularly in Asia, South America and Africa. Part I is a set of synthesis chapters, addressing policy, public health, environmental conservation and ecological perspectives on health and forests (including women's and children's health, medicinal plants, and viral diseases such as Ebola, SARS and Nipah encephalitis). Part II features case studies from around the world that cover important issues such as the links between HIV/AIDS and the forest sector, and between diet and health. Part III looks at the specific challenges to health care delivery in forested areas, including remoteness and the integration of traditional medicine with modern health care. The book concludes with a synthesis designed for use by practitioners and policymakers to work with forest dwellers to improve their health and that of their ecosystems. For more information, see http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415848879/.

*New paper – Foot and Mouth Disease: A Look from the Wild Side (2013), Weaver GV, Domenech J, Thiermann AR, and Karesh WB. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 49 (4), pp. 759-785, doi: 10.7589/2012-11-276 – We review the literature and discuss control options regarding foot and mouth disease (FMD) in wildlife around the world. There are more than 100 species of wild, feral, laboratory, or domesticated animals that have been infected naturally or experimentally with FMD virus. Apart from the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in sub-Saharan Africa, wildlife has not been demonstrated to play a significant role in the maintenance of FMD. More often, wildlife are passively infected when outbreaks of FMD occur in domestic livestock, and, in some wild ungulates, infection results in severe disease. Efforts to control FMD in wildlife may not be successful when the disease is endemic in livestock and may cause more harm to wildlife, human livelihoods, and domestic animals. Currently in sub-Saharan Africa, the complete eradication of FMD on a subcontinental scale in the near term is not possible, given the presence of FMD-infected African buffalo and the existence of weak veterinary infrastructures in some FMD-endemic countries. Therefore efforts to control the disease should be aimed at improved vaccines and improved use of vaccines, improved livestock management practices, and utilization of programs that can help in disease control such as the FMD Progressive Control Program and regulatory frameworks that facilitate trade such as zonation, compartmentalization, and commodity-based trade. Though not meeting the definition of wildlife used in this review, feral domestic animals warrant a special concern with regard to FMD control. To access the full paper, see: http://dx.doi.org/10.7589/2012-11-276.


*Masters in Conservation Leadership - Applications and scholarship support for October 2014 – This course is a full-time, one year Masters, aimed at graduates of leadership potential with at least three to five years of experience relevant to biodiversity conservation. The unique feature of the course is its delivery by a collaboration between six University of Cambridge departments and nine leading conservation organisations based around Cambridge, and its focus on issues of management and leadership. A key aim of the course is to build the capacity of conservation leaders from tropical countries. As a result, the first two cohorts have attracted post-experience students from around the world. We have scholarship funding available for the academic year beginning in October 2014. All applications for October entry and scholarships must be received by December 3rd, 2013. Further details about the course and scholarships can be found at: http://www.geog.cam.ac.uk/graduate/mphil/conservation/. Applicants are also encouraged to seek scholarship support locally, for example via the Chevening Scholarship schemes run by the British Council in their home countries.

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 & Shirley