Rabies, a viral disease transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal, is common in the county. Dedan Ngatia, Assistant Scientist, Laikipia Small Carnivores Project is helping by giving free vaccinations
Tell us about the Laikipia Rabies Vaccine Campaign Project
This is part of a domestic dogs project I am running in Laikipia. I am doing this with support from Dr Adam Ferguson, a post-doctoral fellow working at Mpala Research Centre (also my supervisor) and Dr Paul Webala (my other supervisor).
How are residents of Laikipia benefiting from the campaign?
We are vaccinating all dogs and cats against rabies in several community ranches including; Lekiji, Il Motiok, Koija, Endana, Naibor, Ngare Ng’iro and Ireri. So far, we have vaccinated approximately 450 domestic dogs and several cats within the first four days of the campaign. Every dog vaccinated against rabies reduces the risk of this highly infectious disease getting into the endangered African wild dog population. This will also boost peaceful coexistence between humans and domestic animals.
How many people have benefited from the project so far?
The whole project has both direct and indirect benefits to the community members. We have so far employed eight people to work with the project.
For regions such as Laikipia, human population increases has led to people settling close to ranches and wildlife reserves, which ultimately leads to a greater potential for human-wildlife conflict.
One major area of conflict lies in the increase in domestic dogs associated with this growing rural settlement. Laikipia ecosystems are known to be landscapes where wildlife freely co-exists with humans, providing a greater opportunity for contact between wild and domestic animals.
How much money have you put in the programme?
We obtained the funds through crowd sourcing on social media. The whole budget for the vaccination campaign is Sh500,000 and we successfully managed to get these funds through this technique.
Other funding for the scientific part of the project has been from NACOSTI (National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation), Mpala Research Centre (Meeker Family Fund) and National Science Foundation (through Dr Adam Ferguson).
Are there plans to extend the projects to other parts of the country?
So far we have vaccinated dogs in seven community ranches. We plan on vaccinating all domestic dogs in Laikipia by next year. From here, we will be conducting this annually all over Laikipia considering that the vaccine can only last for a year. The project was held over four days.
Do you have plans to have the vaccination for a longer period for better impact?
We will extend the vaccination time considering that we will be vaccinating the entire Laikipia county where we will have to put in more labour and resources to see this succeed.
We expect more veterinary doctors and more volunteers next year where we will also employ more people from the community. But again, it all depends on funding.
How will you keep track of the beneficiaries of the vaccine, to ensure that the impact is long-term?
We issue certificates of vaccination for every vaccinated animal with details on its sex, name, colour, location, name of the owner, date of the vaccination, date when the next vaccination is due. Finally, the certificates are signed by a registered veterinarian with the Kenya Veterinary Board.