WINDHOEK – Agra ProVision and the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) signed an agreement for “the implementation of an epidemiology survey of Rabies in Kudu and the development of an oral anti-Rabies vaccine for Kudu in Namibia” on March 13.
The project will be implemented for a period of 13 months, from March 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016. Namibia has a wide range of wildlife resources attracting thousands of tourists worldwide annually. Kudus are one of Namibia’s most well-known and popular antelope species but also a species under constant threat from rabies. Traditionally, carnivores were the most common vectors for this disease, but since the late 1970s, following a devastating rabies outbreak in the kudu population, indications are there to suspect that a species specific strain is now being maintained in nature by the Namibian kudu population. This serious disease not only continues to pose a threat to the kudu population, but also to our wildlife in general. It is against this background that this project seeks to find an antidote for the rabies virus found in kudus in Namibia.
From 1977 to 1986 it is estimated that between 30 000 to 50 000 kudus (20 to 40% of the total polutation) died from rabies. Studies further revealed that rabies in kudu occurs in cycles in areas with dense kudu population, starting in central Namibia then spreading northwards to all the major habitats of kudu, including the Etosha National Park. Moreover, between 2001 – 2006, it is estimated that 104 humans died of Rabies in Namibia. The main source of this infection however was the domestic dog (often feral dog), affecting many lives in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) of the country.
Dr Rainer Hassel, Agra’s Technical Advisor for Animal Health and Project Leader said; “The main objective of the project is to obtain more information about the epidemiology of rabies in Kudu. This will be achieved by means of questionnaires, a process that started some time ago. Furthermore, the project aims to obtain possible evidence of the existence of natural immunity.” Shedding more details on the project output, Dr Hassel said; “The project will develop a method of oral vaccination of Kudu in Namibia.” The budget of implementing the project is some N$ 2 600 000.00.