You can see the zeal in her eyes as she lures her dog towards us. Sanaipei had learnt that 40% of people bitten by rabid animals are children under 15 years of age, with domestic dogs contributing to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans. This is all thanks to the Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign (LRVC). Sanaipei wants to make her home safe for her children and ensure that they get enough information to make the right decisions when dealing with a dog bite. With the exception of Antarctica, rabies cases are still being reported in countries all over the world – mostly those in developing nations.
The Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign started in 2015 with the aim of providing real-time health benefits for people, domestic animals and wildlife. The long term goal is to make Laikipia Kenya’s first rabies-free County. Human, wildlife and dog deaths caused by this disease are still reported in significant numbers, which is quite alarming as populations of “man’s best friend” are on the rise. Participants in the LRVC spent six days under the scorching sun, with angry, stubborn dogs and successfully vaccinated seven hundred and forty three dogs. Last year, over four thousand dogs were vaccinated in twenty days.
Just like all other initiatives, the LRVC has had several challenges, some which can be managed while others are simply beyond human control – like the weather. However, we have had overwhelming support from various partners such as Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia Wildlife Forum and Ol Pejeta Conservancy among others. The number of students, vets and community members who are always willing to volunteer is always encouraging but we do need more of their support and that of the Laikipia County Government.
This year’s LRVC will take place over the 4 weekends in October. Our goal is to vaccinate 5,000 dogs and cats during this period. The campaign will target approximately 20 communities bordering Mpala, Ol Jogi, Segera, Ol Pejeta, Loisaba, Ol Lentille, Karisia, Naibunga, Lewa and Borana Conservancies.
By 2030, Kenya hopes to be a rabies free nation, and Laikipia is leading efforts to ensure this vision becomes a reality. In the meantime, we hope to see Sanaipei once again with the same zeal and determination to end rabies, starting with her dog Poppy, this time bringing along neighbours and friends for the same cause.
Laikipia Wildlife Forum will be working closely with the LRVC and will keep you up to date on this very important initiative, so stay tuned!
About the writer:
Wangechi Kiongo is a student from Karatina University currently working on the LRVC.