Associate Professor of Conservation Biology, University of California Davis
Location: Samburu & Laikipia Districts, Kenya
Research: Disease Threats to Endangered African Wild Dogs: Information for Conservation
Species/Topic: African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
Abstract: The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of the world's most endangered predators, with fewer than 6,000 remaining in the wild. Like other endangered canids, African wild dogs are seriously threatened by infectious disease, particularly rabies and canine distemper. Unfortunately, strategies to protect wild dog populations are poorly developed, partly because basic information is lacking on how best to manage disease risks. Recent modelling suggests that vaccinating a fairly small proportion of wild dogs in a population might greatly reduce local extinction risks. Trials in captivity suggest that wild dogs may be protected by oral vaccination. This study will evaluate the feasibility and safety of oral vaccination of free-ranging wild dogs, by measuring the proportion of wild dogs that could potentially be vaccinated under field conditions, and by investigating possible risks of vaccine consumption by non-target species. This research complements parallel evaluations of alternative approaches to disease control.