Harmonization of Disease Management Policy in Focal WDAs Across the Livestock and Wildlife Sectors

Principal Investigator: Steven Osofsky

Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences
Sponsor: World Wildlife Fund
Grant Number: NA11321
Title: Harmonization of Disease Management Policy in Focal WDAs Across the Livestock and Wildlife Sectors
Project Amount: $205,963
Project Period: June 2021 to December 2023

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 

Across southern Africa's 5-nation Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), both livestock production and ecotourism (with healthy wildlife populations) are considered essential for rural development and poverty alleviation. However, diseases that move between wildlife and livestock threaten the whole TFCA enterprise and are an ongoing source of conflict.

International trade standards to enable beef export have until recently required livestock production areas to be free from diseases like foot and mouth disease (FMD). This is impossible to achieve in many parts of southern Africa because FMD occurs naturally in African buffalo. As a result, communities living in areas near wildlife (like KAZA) have been excluded from accessing markets for their cattle, leading to economic hardship, increased poverty and resentment towards wildlife. At the same time, vast fencing systems have been erected to separate wildlife from livestock to maintain disease-free export zones. These fences are a major impediment to connectivity, including movement and range expansion of elephants from densely populated areas in Botswana into Angola, Namibia and Zambia. Moreover, fences have been identified as a major threat to three of KAZA’s six WDAs, namely the Kwando River, Khaudum-Ngamiland, and Hwange-Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pan.

Fortunately, recent changes to international trade regulations coupled with newly developed commodity-based trade (CBT) approaches to beef production open opportunities for improved livestock market access while diminishing the need for some expensive and environmentally damaging fences. As a result, there is now an opportunity to integrate livestock and wildlife systems in TFCAs like KAZA and rethink fencing strategies.

In light of this new policy enabling environment, and with support from WWF, Cornell University’s AHEAD program is working to facilitate greater cooperation between the wildlife and livestock sectors in and among KAZA Partner States. CBT provides a genuine opportunity to break down barriers between sectors and catalyze collaboration to resolve previously intransigent conflicts between animal disease regulatory needs and KAZA’s conservation and poverty alleviation objectives.