“In 1996 I lost 350 goats due to disease. If the goats would have been vaccinated, I would not have lost them,” says Mohamed Ali, a pastoralist from Korisa location in Garissa County, Kenya.
Mohamed was one of many livestock owners in Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy who participated in an eight-day vaccination exercise from 30th March to 6th April, lead by NRT and Ishaqbini Conservancy, and supported by San Deigo Zoo.
The campaign saw a total of 35,116 head of livestock vaccinated against diseases that could also affect the endangered hirola in the sanctuary. In an area where livestock production is the main source of household income, the exercise was welcomed by the community.
“The exercise is a cautionary measure given that diseases have been shown to have a serious impact on endangered species in the past,” said Dr. Stephen Chege, NRT and San Diego Zoo Project Manager for Disease Surveillance. “For example rinderpest, although it has been eradicated was proved to have decimated extensive numbers of Hirola antelopes in 1980s.”
“A bacterial or viral disease outbreak could be devastating in the area surrounding Ishaqbini since livestock infections have the potential to cross over to wildlife and vice versa,” Dr. Chege adds.
The exercise was a concerted effort from NRT, the County Government of Garissa, the Kenya Wildlife Service, St. Louis Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global who provided funding for the exercise.