FNB injects half-million dollars into kudu rabies project

25 Feb 2015 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 25 FEB (NAMPA) – First National Bank (FNB) Namibia on Tuesday handed over N.dollars 500 000 to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) for the first phase of the Kudu-Rabies project.
Speaking at the event, FNB ‎Head of Strategic Marketing and Communication Dixon Norval raised concern that an estimated 50 000 kudus have died due to rabies alone, stressing that the need to find a method to control the disease is of utmost importance.
“The rate of infection of rabies in kudus remains unacceptably high in Namibia and this is worrisome to many private and public stakeholders. An urgent and effective control measure must be found and applied successfully in order for us to rescue this beautiful animal from extinction in our country,” he said.
At the same occasion, Agra Technical Advisor for Animal Health, Dr Rainer Hassel explained that the overall aim of the project is the reduction of losses caused by rabies in kudus through the development of an effective oral vaccine and the collection of serological and epidemiological data to improve understanding of the disease.
“The intended impact is to ensure that the kudu remains available as an economic and aesthetic asset and to protect the biodiversity of wildlife in Namibia. The intended beneficiaries are the tourism industry and the hunting industry, including all people employed in these industries and the government. Therefore, the planned action has a strong, common goal,” he added.
The vaccine will be offered at certain peak times such as in the evenings at water points and where mineral licks are supplemented, according to Hassel.
“Should the oral vaccination prove to be successful, a second phase will have to be implemented to develop a suitable vaccine containing bait that can be used to vaccinate free-ranging kudu and to make this vaccine available to farmers. The oral vaccination should form part of a structured programme to control the disease,” he noted.
One out of a group of eight captive kudus will be infected experimentally on a farm outside Windhoek to prove the possibility of horizontal transmission of rabies among kudus. The animals will be observed to understand the nature of any direct contact and to see if any of the susceptible kudus develop rabies or produce antibodies.