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Well, this post is only a month late for World Rabies’ Day…

But it hasn’t stopped being relevant.

I stumbled across this campaign, Afya Serengeti, Health for Serengeti, which aims to control the spread and eventually eradicate rabies in the Serengeti Plains (Kenya and Tanzania). The campaign is sponsored in part by Intervet/Schering-Plough, a subsidiary of Merck.

Photo from the project photo page

It seems that Intervet is promoting the campaign through US veterinary clinics. For every dose of an Intervet-manufactured vaccine administered (there’s a list on the website), the company will donate a dose of rabies vaccine to the project.

They also have a click campaign which anyone can participate in. For every 5000 verified clicks received via the button on the front page of the site (unique visitor counts apparently don’t matter), Intervet will donate an undisclosed amount of “resources.” Every click also enrolls you in a chance to win a $50 iTunes gift certificate if you fill out some information and include a photo of your pet as a “message of support” to the program.

I don’t know the details about the project’s management other than what’s on the site, but I agree with the motivating premise that rabies should be preventable in this day and age, and that we should have the resources to do something about it. The gravity of the disease is something I seldom considered while living in both the United States and Taiwan, the latter of which is a rabies-free island, achieved partially through the tragedy of massive dog culls in the 1980s — something that would not be feasible in parts of the world where dogs share as close a relationship to basic modes of daily life as they do in parts of Africa.

Q: How is the relationship between dogs and people here?

A: Dogs are worth a lot to us. First they are watchdogs. They warn us if something is wrong. They can also bring food to our home, when they catch an animal. Meat costs 3000 shillings per kg. The dog brings 10 kg for free.

(from Episode 5 of the website’s video presentations)

And these dogs belong with their people, and are both good with and good for them. It was previously assumed that there were far too many roaming strays to ever successfully implement a rabies vaccination campaign. However, as the folks from Afya Serengeti show, these dogs have names, homes, and humans who will happily bring them in for free vaccinations.

Photo from the project photo page

I found the video presentations to be most persuasive. Check the tab for Serengeti Movies for five well-produced clips (by Ten10 Films) on how the project is carried out at a grassroots, village level. I recommend watching at least the first episode with Sarah Cleaveland, who speaks cogently about the inception of the project and introduces the personnel involved, and the fourth and fifth episodes which contain lots of amazing footage of villagers and their wide variety of dogs. Okay, I liked episode two and three as well, for their presentation of the personalities behind the campaign and the vivid examples of old-school advertising techniques like loudspeaker jeeps, respectively. It’s all very inspiring.

The House of Two Bows baroos in support of the folks at the Carnivore Disease Project House!