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Sian Waters - BMAC UK
14 Lindsay Gardens, Tredegar, Gwent NP22 $RP
(Please mention in the check for Sian Waters.)
An important part of BMAC’s mission is to improve the welfare of people and their domestic animals around Barbary macaque habitat. With this in mind, we developed the BMAC Dog Health Programme (DHP) in collaboration with the regional veterinary services, who provide us assistance and rabies vaccines free of charge.
The BMAC Dog Health Programme was developed in response to both wildlife and livestock predation by what we initially believed to be feral dogs.
Previous control methods were not only proving ineffective and inhumane but were also putting people and wildlife at risk. Photographic evidence collected by Sian Waters and Ahmed El Harrad confirmed that the dogs were in fact free-ranging village dogs and not feral dogs as was previously believed.
In 2010, a BMAC team led by our DHP director, Tamlin Watson, provided a door to door service offering dog vaccinations.
We believe that offering this service reduces stress to dogs and their owners by avoiding a journey to an administration centre. This strategy also increases the chances of high vaccination coverage. We also provide collars for the dogs, with different colours depending on the village they come from. The collars are made by a local craftsman from brightly coloured leather.
All dogs are photographed and details of age, size, colour, sex and use are recorded.
These data are important to ascertain the numbers of village dogs and assess the percentage of the village dog populations we are able to vaccinate.
Some dogs are extremely difficult to handle as both owners and dogs are fearful of each other. Muzzles are used when vaccinating and the owner is expected to hold his/her own dog for the vaccination and, if necessary, to fit the muzzle themselves. All animals are treated where possible for obvious infections, old collars are removed if too tight and all are given anti-parasite treatments.
Not all dogs can be vaccinated as some are too young, too ill or too dangerous even for their owners to handle. With this in mind, we aim for a minimum vaccination of 60% of a village’s dog population but in fact achieve 80-90%. This high coverage ensures a dramatic decrease in the incidence of rabies in the dog population, thus reducing the risk to people and their livestock and, we hope, the Barbary macaques, which are predated on by domestic dogs in the forest. We have now vaccinated 350 dogs in five villages around Bouhachem.
The project will continue to provide a rabies vaccination programme for all villages not yet covered, whilst generating data to guide the development of a dog neutering strategy for this region.
Female dogs comprise 10% of the total dog population in villages around Bouhachem and all have at least one litter per year. The vast majority of people owning bitches would like them neutered if given the opportunity. This will radically improve dog welfare in the area, at least for neutered females.
Benefits of the Dog Health Programme
This programme reassures the villagers that we are concerned about their welfare as well as that of the macaques.
It improves perceptions among villagers who now value the macaques due to the salient benefits their presence and that of the BMAC team brings to public health.
For more information click here for a pdf of a poster presented at the UFAW Animal Welfare Science Symposium, in Barcelona in 2012.
Please contact us if you would like to support our work with the dogs.