Sibanye Trust meets the needs of animals in Lupane district, Zimbabwe
Sibanye Animal Welfare & Conservancy Trust received an AKI grant to improve the welfare of animals, mainly dogs, cats, and donkeys, in Lupane district, Zimbabwe by holding monthly clinics and humane education/awareness raising events. Sibanye's Director, Alfred Sihwa, tells us about the grant activities and the main challenges for animals in Lupane district.
Sibanye mainly works in communities on the edge of Hwange National Park, where transmission of disease between domestic animals and wildlife is a problem. Sibanye's work aims to help dogs, cats, and donkeys, while preventing diseases from spreading to the park's wildlife. For example, foot and mouth disease in cattle is a problem, and that means transmission between cattle and wildlife is a concern. Because of the proximity of the communities to the park, Sibanye gives the communities information about how to care for their animals to avoid transmission problems.
With AKI grant funds, Sibanye held community clinics, where they provided rabies vaccinations and treatment for tapeworm, pinworm, red worms, mange, and other internal and external parasites for 764 dogs, 1020 donkeys, and [sadly, only] one cat. If necessary, animals were also treated for wounds and injuries. When the vaccines were available, dogs were vaccinated against distemper and parvovirus.
Sibanye held AKI-funded clinics in September, November, January, February, and March, as follows:
Sibanye's September clinic was held at Zinapi diptank in partnership with the Department of Veterinary Services Zimbabwe, which was represented by Dr. Mtangirwa. Sixty-six donkeys, 30 dogs, and 1 cat were treated. Of major concern was that one dog had canine distemper. Sibanye staff educated communities about this disease and the possibility for transmission to wildlife.
Pictures from the September clinic:
During the clinic, we made preparations for World Rabies Day on 28 September at Zinapi. With the pre-planning, it was a great success with attendance above 700, including many school children.
The October/November clinics commenced in Menyezwa. In total, Sibanye vaccinated 203 dogs against rabies, canine distemper, and parvovirus. 271 Donkeys were treated for internal and external parasites.
The people of this village have many dogs because they live on the edge of the park and they use dogs to scare monkeys, baboons, and other wild animals away from their crops. Donkeys in this area are getting thinner and thinner due to the prevailing drought. We were able to offer extra feed.
Pictures from October/November clinics:
Sibanye postponed the December clinic because of a shortage of rabies vaccines. Even though rabies vaccines still were unavailable, Sibanye resumed the clinics in January.
The January clinic was in Shabula village under Matshiya ward. Sibanye treated 33 donkeys for internal and external parasites common in the area. Two donkeys were treated for eye problems. Thirteen donkeys were treated for harness wounds and one had a wound from the wires used to place a bell around the donkey’s neck-you can see this in the pictures. Sibanye advised the owner to affix the bell with different material and we treated the wounds.
Finally, we received Rabiccine and the 1st place we thought of for the February clinic was Lupanda, where there were cases reported of jackals entering the community, eating lambs and getting into the fields and eating melons and maize. This put humans and dogs at risk of contracting rabies. We also had rabies cases in Menyezwa ward in Jabatshaba so these were the two points we did in two consecutive days.
Lupanda: Tuesday 25 February
We started out by sharing information on One Health, animal health and human health. We discussed the dangers of contracting rabies. We advised against killing jackals and keeping a safe distance. We treated 64 dogs and 59 donkeys. We had over 65 people, who gathered to hear our presentation.
Jabatshaba: Wednesday 26 February
We took advantage of a meeting being held with Womens Affairs, Lupane Youth, and Forest Commission to hold our clinic. As an area bordering the national park, they face similar challenges as Lupanda, but on this side it is the painted dog which comes into communities.
As we did in Lupanda, we spoke first about the importance of caring for dogs and donkeys and not shooting or trapping painted dogs. We vaccinated and treated 93 dogs and 113 donkeys.
The donkeys in Jabatshaba looked more healthy than in Lupanda, but one was caught in a snare and we agreed with the paravet to assist him with transport and medication to attend to it until the donkey fully recovered.
In March, we held three clinics, where we treated a total of 374 dogs and 478 donkeys:
3 March in Shabulanyana village and 11 March at Mqoqi Business Centre, which we followed with door to door visits because we received reports of an outbreak of rabies. We encouraged everyone to tell others to bring their dogs to the dip tank on the 19th of March and there, we attended to 103 dogs and 194 donkeys. Pictures from our March clinics:
Some of the challenges we faced are:
We could not spay and neuter because the necessary equipment that is available at the local Veterinary Department is dilapidated.
We had to buy our fuel in bulk and hire our vehicle in advance because of fears of changes in prices and shortage of fuel.
We had to negotiate with Vet Department to keep our fuel safe overnight and provide security.
Shortage of vaccines, the country ran out of rabies vaccine and the only vaccine available was the one offered by those in private practice and this was very expensive.
Vaccinated numbers were too low and the rest of Lupane district where we weren't able to reach is left uncovered.
We also had many successes including:
Education went very well and people are still keen to have the project to continue. We know that because we are always approached by people to help their animals.
Veterinary Department provided us with its staff for every day we went out and they did the anti-parasite dosing and vaccinations. We have established a good working partnership with them.
The University offered to have Sibanye discuss zoonotic diseases and the One Health Programme. This is also a good sign that we are stronger and are good partners in animal welfare.