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"Diseases of Importance at the
Wildlife/Livestock Interface in Kenya"

Elizabeth Wambwa

The rangelands of Kenya occupy 74% of the country’s land area and are largely inhabited by nomadic or transhumant pastoralists who comprise less than 15% of the total population. This extensive production system allows a greater interface between domestic and wild animals. This interface also occurs on large scale private or community ranches, and with communities that border the protected areas (national parks and game reserves) around the country. With livestock and wildlife sharing the same ecosystems, there is exchange of several diseases. The resurgence of some livestock and wildlife diseases in Kenya that were previously controlled is of serious concern and can be attributed to several factors. The uncontrolled or illegal movements of livestock by pastoralists within the country and across national borders in search of grazing, markets or following cattle rustling is a major factor in the spread of diseases. Seasonal wildlife movements result in constant interactions with livestock and also increase the possibility of occurrence of transboundary diseases.

The most prevalent and economically important diseases in Kenya include those caused by viruses such as rinderpest, Rift Valley fever, foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, malignant catarrhal fever and rabies (Karstad, 1986; Mushi, 1986; Rossiter, 1986). Bacterial diseases include anthrax, brucellosis and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (Karstad, 1986). Protozoal diseases such as trypanosomiasis and theileriosis (Grootenhuis, 1986) and numerous ectoparasites and helminths are also prevalent. The presence of some important transboundary diseases has greatly reduced Kenya’s export of wildlife, livestock and their products to lucrative international markets. This is due to stringent requirements in sanitary standards for international trade in animals and animal products established by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), that are a prerequisite for exporting products.

New and innovative approaches to disease control are needed, as the human-livestock-wildlife situation in Africa is highly dynamic and current knowledge and veterinary skills should be applied at the interface. Government policy needs to focus strongly on improvement of disease control and marketing of livestock, wildlife and their products. There is need for regional integration within East Africa to allow for free trade in animals and animal products.

This paper briefly describes the wildlife-livestock interface in Kenya with emphasis on the important diseases at this interface. It suggests measures to enhance disease control and improve trade in wildlife, livestock and their products.


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Biography for
Elizabeth Wambwa

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