Special report by guest author Liz VanWormer
Farmers gather from the fields as Envirovet participants, faculty members, and village residents cluster by a long farm fence to discuss elephant conflict near a wildlife management area. The cool dry-season breeze sends dark rectangles of chili oil and grease soaked cloth (an elephant deterrent) swinging above the conversation as participants share experiences of coexisting with elephants in India, South Africa, and Cameroon.
This is the core of Envirovet, building new ideas and connections while exploring ecosystem health challenges and opportunities. HALI Project team members had the pleasure to host Envirovet Tanzania 2009 for three weeks thissummer, offering 26 veterinarians, ecologists and vet students from 13 countries the opportunity to experience diverse facets of the human- domestic animal-wildlife-environment health interface.
With Tanzania National Parks, participants conducted a giraffe capture in Mikumi National Park, giraffe skin disease surveys and fire ecology assessments in Ruaha National Park, and hiked to waterfalls while learning about forest conservation in Udzungwa National Park. In the villages where HALI conducts its research, participants learned how to track animals, identify plants, and test Maasai cattle for bovine tuberculosis. Along with the Wildlife Conservation Ruaha Landscape Program, participants delved into issues of wildlife conflict, livelihoods, and water resource use by visiting farmers, pastoralists, and local village officials.
While visiting Tanzania’s veterinary school at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, students delved into the diverse roles of Tanzanian veterinarians in domestic animal and wildlife health. Hands on laboratories on village chicken health, using TB sniffing rats to diagnose disease, and evaluating catfish as indicators of pollution.
Zanzibar’s dramatic coastline provided the backdrop for the final section of the course. With the Institute of Marine Sciences, students explored seaweed and pearl farming enterprises for sustainable livelihoods, discussed pollution challenges and visited Jozani National Park to see the island’s endemic Zanzibar red colobus monkey and learn about community-based mangrove conservation.
The Tanzania session was an inspiring finally to a fantastic Envirovet Summer Institute! We know the connections among this growing network of ecosystem health practitioners will continue to develop, and that the 2009 Envirovet alumni will carry forward their experiences to be the next generation of leaders in wildlife and ecosystem health.
To learn more about Envirovet visit: http://vetmed.illinois.edu/envirovet/