Importance

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Africa is a vast continent consisting of the Afrotropic and palearctic ecozones, and it sustains some of the most diverse plant and animal populations in the world

The wild animals of Africa comprise one of the continent’s unique attributes and are pivotal in sustaining international eco-tourism on the continent. Eco-tourism makes a varying but substantial contribution to the GDP of a number of African countries. In addition to ecotourism, and depending on the prevailing conditions in specific countries, the income generated by game ranching, and trophy and recreational hunting, form a significant proportion of the income generated by the wildlife industry. The contribution made to the GDP by tourism in the different states, commonly far outstrips that of agriculture

In Africa there are numerous formal national and provincial parks, conservancies, commercial game ranches, and in certain countries, extensive numbers of free-ranging wildlife that intermingle with livestock of subsistence farmers and pastoralists. In addition to competing with one another for land, critical diseases of economic importance, problem animals, and zoonoses create conflict between the proponents of conservation and agricultureat the interface between wildlife, domesticated animals, and humans. Diseases in particular threaten the delicate balance at the interface with a potential pronounced negative impact on human livelihoods, animal and human health, and conservation

The veterinary issues pertaining to wildlife are substantial. Detection of diseases and its distribution are probably two of the most critical of these issues. Knowing which diseases you are dealing with is an important factor when considering the following veterinary matters:

  • Depending on the disease that is being dealt with the negative effects on both cohorts of the bi-directional transmission of infectious disease between wildlife and domesticated animals
  • Wildlife species are reservoirs of economically important diseases (e.g. African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease) that may have major negative consequences on satisfying the international criteria used to regulate local and international trade in domestic animals and animal products
  • Wildlife in particular played a major role in the recent past as a source of emerging infectious diseases for humans. These zoonoses (disease transmitted from animals to humans), include bovine tuberculosis, anthrax, brucellosis, rabies, Rift valley fever, trypanosomosis, ebola and lassa fever, HIV, and others
  • Diseases that threaten human livelihoods (e.g. malignant catarrhal fever, foot-and-mouth disease, and African swine fever) and wildlife (often on the endangered lists) within conservation areas (e.g. canine distemper, bovine tuberculosis, and rabies)

As human and domestic animal populationscontinue to expand into areas surrounding the wildlife areas (and into wildlife areas), the occurrence, spread and prevalence of diseases of wildlife will change and their impact increase. Understanding the dynamics of these pathogens in complex ecosystems, presents a considerable challenge requiring a multi-professional approach

To deal with disease of wildlife within the context outlined above, detailed information pertaining to their diagnosis, distribution, and impact is required to deal with them from a management and regulatory perspective. The critical issues here remain the detection of the diseases using current information to make a correct diagnosis based on the interpretation of the available data. The intention of this Wiki, is to provide the required information on an on-going basis