Zimbabwe project 2-7 March 2015:
This past week, 2 March 2015 - 7 March 2015, our long term partners, Optima Community Veterinary Clinic held a rabies prevention campaign in the Bubye conservancy, Zimbabwe, on the South African border. 1000 dogs vaccinated in 5 days . The team worked long hours in this vast rural area where a lion was tested positive for rabies end last year. Rabies is 100% fatal, but 100 % preventable if your animals are vaccinated.
Beitbridge rural district rabies vaccination campaign:
Our Partners ,Optima CVC, has just completed a week long rabies vaccination campaign
in the Beitbridge rural district area of Zimbabwe. Our assistance was requested in this
area, after a lion tested positive for rabies recently and had to be euthanized.
In our bid to assist this vast rural area, its people and their animals, we donated 1000
rabies vaccinations, the equipment needed to administer them, educational leaflets and
Local veterinarian Anna Haw, who has been working in and around this rural area
conducting research and work on lions, saw the need for assistance to prevent the spread
of this terrible disease further. She then contacted us to ask for assistance. Thanks to her
hard work and the involvement of the local state vet, Dr Mike Nare, the project got its
required import permits and Vets for change South Africa headed off to Zimbabwe.
Once there, we were accommodated by local veterinarian Jaimy-Lee Allberry and her
partner Mark Bristow. Thanks to them, we were able to reach many of the rural villages,
covering vast distances each day with the use of their Land Cruiser.
On our first day, the turnout exceeded our expectations, with over 50 dogs waiting for us
upon arrival. Throughout the course of the morning, more and more villagers arrived with
their dogs, some walking up to 7km to just to reach us. By lunch time we had vaccinated
130 dogs and issued all owners with a vaccination certificate which they were very proud
of. We were also joined by Dr Mike and his assistant Timothy Dumani who is the veterinary
extension officer for the area. They took this opportunity to speak to the residents of this
rural area about rabies and explaining the importance of vaccination.
The next day, we travelled to a different area. The turnout was a little slower here but as
the morning went on and the word spread, more and more dogs and their owners arrived.
We also took the opportunity to give a talk at the local primary school on rabies. The
children listened with interest and studied the educational leaflets we handed out and even
managed to answer questions on the subject at the end of the morning.
Realising the vastness of the area we wanted to cover, we decided we would have to split
our small team and visit more than one village each day. Timothy and his assistant Great
Mtandi did a great job of informing the Chief of each village we were going to visit, so the
word could be spread, enabling as many people as possible to bring their dogs to us.
As the week went on, we visited at least two villages each day and the turnout remained
high. As well as vaccinating we also tried to educate the people on how to hold and
restrain their dog’s in a kind manner. We also saw the desperate need for further
assistance in these areas. Due to the lack of resources available to Dr Mike and his
colleagues, many owners had resorted to castrating their dog’s themselves. The technique
varied from simply using a knife and cutting off the testicles to using rubber bands or even
cable ties. We took time to explain why this is not acceptable but also we empathized with
the people as they have done it through desperation to try and help stop the huge soar in
puppies being born and to prevent the amount of dog fights that were clearly happening
due to the over population.
As the week came to a close and we saw our supply of vaccines diminished, we were
happy the project had been a great success and had been welcomed warmly by the residents of this rural area. We had seen over 1000 dogs and vaccinated 99% of them. We
also hoped the little education we had given will now be passed on and continued with the
support of Dr Mike and his assistants.
Again we would like to thank Dr Mike Nare for facilitating the importation of the vaccines
and along with his colleagues, helping to organise the villages we attended.
Thank you to Anna Haw for her determination to bring help to this area and to Jaimy-Lee
for her much valued support and hard work each day throughout the project.
And finally thank you to Mark Bristow for the loan of his vehicle and to his farm, Cawoods Mazunga
Ranch for sponsoring the fuel, allowing us to cover such a vast area.