Thanks to our donors, collaborators, talented team, and stakeholders in Tanzania, HALI has been able to develop several different projects and activities focusing on research, health, outreach, education, service delivery, and development. All of these activities are hard to keep track of on this blog, so we developed a new website to better highlight our activities, news, and events. Please check out our new site haliproject.org, and our new blog at haliproject.org/blog.
We will maintain this WordPress site as the HALI archives, our original home and project foundation.
David and the HALI team
What is a human-animal interface?
An interface is the common boundary, or the place where two things touch or meet. The human-animal interface is the place where humans and animals come into contact. This interface can be in your home where you interact with your pets, in your fields where you work with livestock, or in the forest where you may encounter wildlife. The intensity of interaction at this interface can vary greatly. If you live in a city, you may have very little intensity of interaction at the human-animal interface, whereas a hunter’s interaction can be intense.
Why is this important? Approximately 75% of emerging infectious diseases are of animal origin, so both the type of interaction and the intensity of that interaction has implications for disease transmission and human-animal health.
In the Ruaha ecosystem, pastoralist communities interact intimately with their herds, and in many places live close to conservation areas where they (and their herds) are exposed to wild animals. HALI is working with pastoralist communities in Ruaha to better understand the context of the pastoralist human-animal interface to improve both human and animal health.
We are very excited to announce the release of the HALI project’s Wildlife Health Handbook – Kitabu cha Afya Wanyamapori in Kiswahili. In 2010-2011 HALI worked with the USFWS Wildlife Without Borders program and Ruaha National Park on an education and outreach program to help park rangers and local game scouts of the MBOMIPA community led Wildlife Management Areas. Emanating from this series of participatory training programs for park staff, rangers, and game scouts, HALI developed an interactive handbook to serve as a first reference guide to Recognizing, Investigating, and Reporting Diseases of Concern for Wildlife Conservation and Human Health.
While the English version of the Handbook has been available since last summer, the Kiswahli version took a little more time as we planned the translation with our great friend David Ngoseck and HALI team member and Tanzania National Parks Veterinarian Dr. Alex, and then reworked the layout and design at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center with our fabulous publications coordinator and graphic designer Alison Kent. The Kiswahili handbook brings this resource to life for our Central and East African stakeholders, and for the majority of game scouts, rangers, hunters, and other people involved in high-risk interactions with wildlife in the area. The handbook is also a great primer in medical/veterinary Kiswahili for any folks out there interested in working with wildlife, animals, and health issues with East African communities. Just download both our English and Kiswahili versions and work through the content and exercises.
Thanks again to all those who have been involved in this project, especially Deana Clifford, Andrea Kulkarni (our talented illustrator), David Ngoseck Mollel, Alex Epaphras Muse, Alison Kent, the USFWS Wildlife Without Borders Program, Tanzania National Parks (special thanks to Ruaha National Park and David Meing’ataki), the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center team, and of course my HALI colleagues in Tanzania.
Trapping Roosters (otherwise known as roosting bats)
Today our PREDICT team held a call with the Chief Ecologist of the PREDICT team in Cameroon Matthew Lebreton. Matthew is an expert on bat capture and handling, with lots of experience doing disease surveillance work with bats from Australia to West Africa. While Harrison, Zika, and Muhiddin explained to Matthew some of the challenges they face capturing small insectivorous bats in the Ruaha ecosystem, Matthew replied “you guys are doing pretty well actually.” Small bats are difficult to capture. Plus, unlike in the forests of Cameroon and Gabon where researchers place capture nets called mist nets perpendicular to known bat flyways under a thick rainforest canopy, the Ruaha ecosystem is open-air. We all know firsthand from freeze tag that it’s easier to catch something in a confined area like an alley than in an open field.
To address this challenge, Harrison and Zika are trapping small bats (aka Roosters in HALI vernacular) in Ruaha by placing nets outside known roosting sites in the eaves of people’s homes (where the risk of bat-borne disease transmission is greatest), and at watering holes (like in the picture above) where bats and other animals may congregate together providing another interesting interface for disease transmission between bats and other wildlife and domestic animals like pastoralist herds and dogs. Matthew also suggested trying some trapping by hand (literally grabbing a bat with a heavily protected and gloved hand), and using another type of trap called a harp trap placed outside the roosting site.
Capturing small bats will continue to be difficult, especially since PREDICT’s bat surveillance is all new research for the Ruaha area. But who knows, maybe they’ll discover a new species! Muhiddin will be sharing some photos of the bat surveillance activities with us over the weekend, so when I receive them, I’ll post them to the HALI Facebook page.