Part 2…An important message for residents and tourists in Marloth Park…

This is a Bovine Tuberculosis-infected kudu we spotted only the day after being educated on this dreadful disease, mainly kudus in Marloth Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Another view of an Egyptian goose (from yesterday’s post here) recovering from an amputated foot due to a severe injury. He’s recovering well and will soon take flight.

First, we must qualify today’s post with this important and heartfelt message: We are not wildlife experts in any manner, nor do we profess to be. The minuscule amount of education we’ve had on Bovine Tuberculosis has been gleaned from others and by reading online scientific reports from universities and veterinary medical resources. We do not intend to express opinions or engage in any controversial conservation issues of which there are many. Our intent is purely to report what we’ve heard, seen, and read about potential means to reduce the incidence of Bovine Tuberculosis here in Marloth Park and save these magnificent animals from extinction in this magical place.

From this scientific abstract at this site:

Five kudus (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), three bulls, and two cows within the Greater Kruger National Park complex were diagnosed with generalized tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium Bovis. The lesions seen in these animals were similar to those previously reported in kudus and included severe tuberculous lymphadenitis of the nodes of the head and neck (that resulted in noticeable uni- or bilateral swelling beneath the ear), thorax, and the mesentery. All the animals also suffered from severe granulomatous pneumonia. The lesions in the lungs were more severe cranially and had a miliary distribution elsewhere in the lungs. Based on the DNA patterns of the M. Bovis isolates, at least some of these kudus were infected with strains commonly present in tuberculous buffaloes, lions, cheetahs, and baboons in the Park. In contrast, other strains from these kudus were quite different and may reflect another source of infection. The presence of tuberculous kudus in the Park is expected to complicate control measures that may be instituted to contain or eradicate the disease in the Park.

Here is another scientific report to review:

When we took the above main photo of this kudu with Bovine Tuberculosis, we immediately contacted Evan with the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers to notify the rangers of this kudu with TB. Sadly, this infectious animal had to be euthanized.

Most likely, in contact with other kudus, many other kudus will have become infected through saliva and other bodily fluids. There is no known vaccine or treatment available to treat or cure Bovine Tuberculosis, a dreadful and painful condition affecting animals in Kruger National Park and here in Marloth Park.

According to local medical professionals, the kudu we spotted is only one isolated case of many already infected in the park. Eventually, the death toll could be staggering. Also, other wildlife carries the disease, which may or may not exhibit symptoms.

There’s no means, at this point, of eradicating TB other than removing all kudus from Marloth Park and starting over with an entirely new healthy generation of kudus. From our understanding, even newborn kudus from an infected mother will have the disease.

We look at all the beautiful kudus here in the park and can’t imagine many are sick. Perhaps, we all can take it upon ourselves to look for signs of TB in our visiting and grazing kudus throughout the park and immediately report the time and location of the sighting. 

Here are some of the more obvious indicators that we may be able to detect in visiting kudus:
1.  Tumors on the head, face, and neck
2.  Excessive salivation
3.  Curly hair on otherwise straight-haired antelope
4.   Sores on the hooves

Of course, we asked, “What can be done to abate the spread of this disease?  Is there anything homeowners, holiday renters, and property managers can do to reduce the risk?”

Although the disease cannot be eradicated by any of our efforts, it can be controlled to a degree by residents implementing the following steps:

1.  First and foremost, it is to stop feeding wildlife in troughs. This is the quickest way TB is contracted between infected and healthy animals. 
2.  Regularly and consistently clean out waterholes, remove all the water, wash the foundation in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly, and replacing with fresh, clean water. This should be done at least once a week. No doubt there are waterholes no one in particular controls, but the goal is to “reduce” the risk of infections, if at all possible.
3.  If you feed wildlife in bowls or other small containers, wash them daily with hot soapy water.
4.  Regularly and consistently wash bird feeders in the same manner as above.  As we all are aware, kudus will eat from bird feeders if they can reach them.

Currently, there is no surefire test for tuberculosis in kudu. Deidre of Wild & Free Rehabilitation and Dr. Dawid Rudolph is developing an accurate test for TB in kudu. Still, funding and research must be satisfied to accomplish this monumental feat.

Deidre Joubert-Huyse (no relation to the property owners) is a kind, dedicated and hardworking individual committed to rescuing and releasing injured and ill wildlife that fit within the guidelines of a safe future release. Her primary concern is tuberculosis in kudu while she continues to aid in the recovery of many wild animals at her facility in Hectorspruit. Deidre explained that she often has to make tough decisions but always with the animal’s best interests as a top priority. Her Facebook page is found here.

There are no easy answers here. And, with all the best intentions in the world, residents in Marloth Park can only do so much. The love of the majestic kudus and other wildlife in the park has become a way of life for many, not only from a caring and emotional place but also from the reality of generating interest in attracting tourists to holiday homes and small businesses located in the park.

We share this message today with a sense of sorrow. We hope that if all residents band together to aid in the reduction of the risks and spread of Bovine TB for the kudu and other wildlife, change may eventually come to fruition.

Yes, we know. We’re only here in Marloth Park for a short time, one year total, as a part of our continuing non-stop world travels, which is nothing compared to the many years most of you have cared for, loved, and nourished these fine animals. 

However, as outlined in yesterday’s and today’s stories, these current circumstances made us feel compelled to share this message and support your efforts, big and small, in effecting a change in reducing the potential for tuberculosis among the kudus (and other wildlife) in Marloth Park.

Photo from one year ago today, June 6, 2017:

Daphne Islet in Victoria, British Columbia. For more photos, please click here.

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