AHEAD Update – August / September / October 2017

Dear AHEAD Colleagues:

*Welcome to the latest issue of the AHEAD Update. It’s admittedly taken us longer than hoped to get back to disseminating our e-newsletter, but our now completed transition to Cornell University has been exciting and successful! Thank you for your patience, and as shown below, a lot’s been going on. As always, if you would like to post an item in the next Update, please just send it to us – thanks.

Victoria Falls KAZA-AHEAD-FAO Workshop Proceedings Now Available

Towards Implementation of Commodity-Based Trade of Beef in the KAZA TFCA: Opportunities for Integrating Livestock Agriculture and Wildlife Conservation

This past November, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA - http://www.kavangozambezi.org) Secretariat, in collaboration with AHEAD and FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), with additional support from the Rockefeller Foundation and GIZ, hosted more than 100 invited delegates from the livestock agriculture and wildlife conservation sectors from the five KAZA TFCA partner countries and further afield, including government officials, representatives from affected farming communities and the private sector, researchers, NGOs, International Cooperating Partners and colleagues from regional and international regulatory bodies at this forum focused on important opportunities associated with OIE changes to international disease management standards pertaining to beef trade – ones that facilitate an approach to beef production that is more compatible with wildlife conservation by not being completely dependent on landscape-fragmenting fencing.

The Proceedings are now downloadable at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/kaza_ahead_fao_workshop_2016/kaza_ahead_fao_workshop_2016.html.

The complete agenda and PDFs of presentations are available at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/kaza_ahead_fao_workshop_2016/agenda.html.

The photo gallery is at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/kaza_ahead_fao_workshop_2016/photo_gallery.html.


Please join us in welcoming Nidhi Ramsden, newly appointed lead technical consultant for AHEAD in southern Africa. Following in the very large footsteps of Mark Atkinson and Mokganedi Mokopasetso, Nidhi has worked collaboratively with AHEAD over the past several years to strengthen strategic partnerships with southern African stakeholders at various scales – and helped to enhance collaboration between the livestock and wildlife sectors. Nidhi, as many of you know, has worked extensively for many years with key regional and global stakeholders in transfrontier conservation area development. She represents a unique combination of expertise, with an MSc in Resource Conservation Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and an MSc in Non-Governmental Organizations and Development from the London School of Economics. In short, we are very excited to have Nidhi as a formal part of the AHEAD team!


* Foot-and-Mouth Disease Impact on Smallholders - What Do We Know, What Don't We Know and How Can We Find Out More? (2017) Knight-Jones TJD, McLaws M and Rushton J, Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 64: 1079–1094.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tbed.12507/fullFoot-and-mouth disease (FMD) endemic regions contain three-quarters of the world's FMD susceptible livestock and most of the world's poor livestock keepers. Yet FMD impact on smallholders in these regions is poorly understood. Diseases of low mortality can exert a large impact if incidence is high. Modelling and field studies commonly find high FMD incidence in endemic countries. Sero-surveys typically find a third of young cattle are sero-positive, however, the proportion of sero-positive animals that developed disease, and resulting impact, are unknown. The few smallholder FMD impact studies that have been performed assessed different aspects of impact, using different approaches. They find that FMD impact can be high (>10% of annual household income). However, impact is highly variable, being a function of FMD incidence and dependency on activities affected by FMD. FMD restricts investment in productive but less FMD-resilient farming methods, however, other barriers to efficient production may exist, reducing the benefits of FMD control. Applying control measures is costly and can have wide-reaching negative impacts; veterinary-cordon-fences may damage wildlife populations, and livestock movement restrictions and trade bans damage farmer profits and the wider economy. When control measures are ineffective, farmers, society and wildlife may experience the burden of control without reducing disease burden. Foot-and-mouth disease control has benefitted smallholders in South America and elsewhere. Success takes decades of regional cooperation with effective veterinary services and widespread farmer participation. However, both the likelihood of success and the full cost of control measures must be considered. Controlling FMD in smallholder systems is challenging, particularly when movement restrictions are hard to enforce. In parts of Africa this is compounded by endemically infected wildlife and limited vaccine performance. This paper reviews FMD impact on smallholders in endemic countries. Significant evidence gaps exist and guidance on the design of FMD impact studies is provided.

* Fencing Bodes a Rapid Collapse of the Unique Greater Mara Ecosystem (2017) Løvschal M, Bøcher PK, Pilgaard J, Amoke I, Odingo A, Thuo A and Svenning J-C, Scientific Reports, 7: 41450.

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep41450With land privatization and fencing of thousands of hectares of communal grazing areas, East Africa is struggling with one of the most radical cultural and environmental changes in its history. The 668,500-hectare Greater Mara is of crucial importance for the great migrations of large mammals and for Maasai pastoralist culture. However, the magnitude and pace of these fencing processes in this area are almost completely unknown. We provide new evidence that fencing is appropriating land in this area at an unprecedented and accelerating speed and scale. By means of a mapped series of multispectral satellite imagery (1985–2016), we found that in the conservancies with the most fences, area cover of fenced areas has increased more than 20% since 2010. This has resulted in a situation where fencing is rapidly increasing across the Greater Mara, threatening to lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem in the near future. Our results suggest that fencing is currently instantiating itself as a new permanent self-reinforcing process and is about to reach a critical point after which it is likely to amplify at an even quicker pace, incompatible with the region’s role in the great wildebeest migration, wildlife generally, as well as traditional Maasai pastoralism.

* Range Contractions of the World's Large Carnivores (2017) Wolf C and Ripple WJ, Royal Society Open Science, 4: 170052.

http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/4/7/170052The majority of the world's terrestrial large carnivores have undergone substantial range contractions and many of these species are currently threatened with extinction. However, there has been little effort to fully quantify the extent of large carnivore range contractions, which hinders our ability to understand the roles and relative drivers of such trends. Here we present and analyse a newly constructed and comprehensive set of large carnivore range contraction maps. We reveal the extent to which ranges have contracted since historical times and identify regions and biomes where range contractions have been particularly large. In summary, large carnivores that have experienced the greatest range contractions include the red wolf (Canis rufus) (greater than 99%), Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) (99%), tiger (Panthera tigris) (95%) and lion (Panthera leo) (94%). In general, the greatest range contractions occurred in Southeastern Asia and Africa. Motivated by the ecological importance of intact large carnivore guilds, we also examined the spatial extent of intact large carnivore guilds both for the entire world and regionally. We found that intact carnivore guilds occupy just 34% of the world's land area. This compares to 96% in historic times. Spatial modelling of range contractions showed that contractions were significantly more likely in regions with high rural human population density, cattle density or cropland. Our results offer new insights into how best to prevent further range contractions for the world's largest carnivores, which will assist efforts to conserve these species and their important ecological effects.

* A Case for Planetary Health / GeoHealth (2017) Almada, AA, Golden CD, Osofsky SA and Myers SS, GeoHealth, 1: 75–78.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GH000084/fullConcern has been spreading across scientific disciplines that the pervasive human transformation of Earth's natural systems is an urgent threat to human health. The simultaneous emergence of “GeoHealth” and “Planetary Health” signals recognition that developing a new relationship between humanity and our natural systems is becoming an urgent global health priority – if we are to prevent a backsliding from the past century's great public health gains. Achieving meaningful progress will require collaboration across a broad swath of scientific disciplines as well as with policy makers, natural resource managers, members of faith communities, and movement builders around the world in order to build a rigorous evidence base of scientific understanding as the foundation for more robust policy and resource management decisions that incorporate both environmental and human health outcomes.

* Announcing Wildlife Health Cornell, A College of Veterinary Medicine Center of Excellence – Wildlife Health Cornell represents an unprecedented approach to the health challenges wild animals face in the northeast U.S. and around the world – a comprehensive, science-based response with an emphasis on the types of interdisciplinary collaboration often required to foster real progress along the science to policy and action continuum. Wildlife Health Cornell has grown out of a palpable sense of genuine urgency regarding the fate of our planet's wildlife, an increasing understanding of our own dependence on the planet's natural systems, and a recognition that it will take a new generation of colleagues to halt and reverse the trends we face. Our inaugural e-newsletter is available at http://conta.cc/2rKjZbG.

Again, if you have items for the next AHEAD Update, please just let us know– thanks.

"What is AHEAD?" Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development was launched at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. By assembling a ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across East and southern Africa, we were fortunate to have tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent – and AHEAD was born. Since then, a range of programs addressing conservation, health, and concomitant development challenges have been launched with the support of a growing list of implementing partners and donors who see the intrinsic value of the One World, One Health approach. AHEAD is a convening, facilitative mechanism, working to create enabling environments that allow different and often competing sectors to literally come to the same table and find collaborative ways forward to address challenges at the interface of wildlife health, livestock health, and human health and livelihoods. We convene stakeholders; help delineate conceptual frameworks to underpin planning, management and research; and provide technical support and resources for projects stakeholders identify as priorities. AHEAD recognizes the need to look at health and disease not in isolation but within a given region's environmental and socioeconomic context.

All the best,

Steve & Shirley