Monthly Archives: September 2008

To Dar, and now back to Idodi…

I went to Dar over the weekend, and stayed at Nico’s Lodge.  A nice little place in Ubungo district with a terrace that overlooked a dirt paved road complete with chickens, laughing children, and intercommed Muslim prayers.  I picked up Misty from the Julius Nyerere Airport on Saturday morning, and we jumped right onto the Hood Bus to Morogoro.  A hell of a travel day for the young girl.  Hood Business Class is no joke.  Three hours of sweaty pain.

In Moro, we stayed at the HiLux Hotel with a nice view of the Eastern Arc mountains.  It rained.  The first time I’ve seen skywater in about 3 months.  We headed back to Iringa on Sunday on Scandanavia (I promise pictures of TZ buses before I leave.  They’re remarkable), and today are off to Idodi for more sampling.  No rest.  This project timetable is about to get really hectic as October draws near.

We’ll be back on Friday evening in order to get ready for World Rabies Day on the 28th.  I think Misty’s pretty excited to get out to the villages and become baptized by dust and flies.  We’ll post some pictures and content from the trip and World Rabies Day on Monday, before we head out to Riverside Campsite for a rest and some quick Swahili instruction.

Happy Anniversary Dan and Erin!

If you haven’t, check out my brother Dan’s blog, Travel Daddies, all about his recent trip cross country from Seattle, WA to Dayton, OH.  Battelground States!


Livestock TB Testing is hardcore

To Idodi…

I’m off to Idodi tomorrow morning to continue the survey and sampling activities of NRRD.  Yay!  We hope to knock out around 25 households, bringing our total to 50, and putting us well within reach of our survey goal of 60 by the end of the month.  It’ll be a rough couple of days teamed up with the HALI livestock team of Howard, James, and Erasto.  These guys are up at 4 every day, sampling for TB in adult cattle before the break of dawn and before the cattle move from the household to graze.  Then they have to return at dusk, and sample well into the night when the cattle are brought back to the zizi (corral) for safe keeping.

We’ll try to get 4 households done per day with the neonate sampling, not a tall order these days, and then head off to knap and enjoy chipsi mayai and Fanta with the villagers.

Chips Mayai (Photo: POMBEE)

I’ll be returning to Iringa and the world of email and internet on the 17th of September, in order to prepare for the arrival of my princess, who flies into Dar the morning of the 19th.  You can reach me by cell phone for emergencies (if I get a signal).

+255 78 422 7291

Giraffe stew

Giraffe carcass (Credit: The Disillusioned One)

A giraffe was killed in one of the Wildlife Management Areas near Ruaha National Park about a week ago.  It was shot by a poacher, and the carcass butchered.  We heard the news when on a field trip this Friday to some of the villages where we’ll be screening an educational film on rabies on the 28th of September.

At lunch at Tungamalenga Camp, news of the giraffe kill raised eyebrows, but news of the sale of giraffe meat provoked quite a reaction.  Apparently, MBOMIPA, the community wildlife management organization, is mandated to sell meat resulting from a poached kill.  If we had wanted, we could have walked over to the Tungamalenga MBOMIPA office, and purchased some nyama twiga (giraffe meat) right there.  Remarkable!  I almost wish we had.  I am now curious about the taste of twiga.

The obvious problem is that by mandating the sale of giraffe meat to MBOMIPA you create demand through a sanctioned supplier.  There is a strong local market for bush meat.  This demand is enhanced by a limited supply thanks to conservation and poaching laws.  But in mandating the sale of the meat, do you not create a conflict of interest in MBOMIPA’s operations?  Bush meat is a quick money making enterprise.  Shooting a giraffe is pretty easy.  They’re tall, slow, easily spotted, and easily slaughtered (see video below for proof).  Why not kill a giraffe, declare it an un-witnessed poacher kill, then call up your boys for the butchery, and make some quick cash with a full stomach?  Seems like a no-brainer.

Credit: Mr.Chris23

Wild dogs and World Rabies Day…

I’m helping the HALI Project put together an event for World Rabies Day on September 28th in a small village called Makifu in Tanzania.  Makifu is close to the Wildlife Management Areas and Ruaha Naitonal Park.  The park has wild dogs, Makifu and surrounding villages have domestic dogs.  Wild dogs have been spotted near the villages drinking from the Tungamalenga River, which means that mixing between the canine populations is possible, with potentially harmful repercussions and consequences (i.e. wild dog death).

For more on the African Wild Dog, please visit Joshua Ginsberg and Mary Cole’s article:

“Wild at heart: The African wild dog, long persucuted as vermin, is down to a few thousand…”

African wild dog (Source:

In the interest of conservation, the HALI Project would like to expand activities into an intervention of sorts to vaccinate domestic dog populations in the villages surrounding the park.  WIld dog packs are known to disappear thanks to rabies (see Wild at Heart above), and it is hoped that vaccinating domestic dogs will reduce a transmission vehicle for infection, as well as protecting villagers and dog owners, and essentially all wildlife.  Rabies can infect any warm blooded creature.

So, we’re doing a video night on the 28th with a presentation.  Kind of a rabies and education program to pilot the effectiveness of an education intervention on rabies awareness and vaccination interest.  We’ll have some evaluation forms for feedback, and hope to use the evaluations as leverage at the district level to promote vaccination programs in the area.  Currently, vaccination programs have been suspended due to a lack of interest stemming from a lack of commitment from the district level.  The vets don’t show up at the appointed time, and nobody likes to wait around for a no-show.

The Dark Side (Video sourced from:

I was going to write up a piece on the Rabies virus, but then came across a wonderfully written 2008 editorial by Olivia Judson of the New York Times.  In “A Coffin for Rabies,” she digs into the reach and extent of the virus in the developing world, including a case study in Tanzania.

A Coffin for Rabies

Here’s a lovely excerpt from the piece on how the Rabies virus attacks the human body:

The virus that causes the disease is spread by the saliva of infected animals. On arriving in a new victim, it travels through the nerves to the spinal cord and up into the brain, where it multiplies rapidly before spreading to other parts of the body, including the salivary glands. The time between being bitten and developing disease can vary from a few days to months or, occasionally, years. Depending on which part of the brain the virus ravages, the disease can take different forms, but the most common is known as furious rabies. This will kill you within a week of symptoms beginning to appear.

Often the first symptom is itching around the site of the bite. Sometimes, it’s an itching so intense that people will tear open their own skin as they scratch. The victim becomes afraid of water, to the point where drinking becomes impossible, no matter how great the thirst: the sight of a glass of water will induce spasms of terror so severe that the victim will hurl the glass away and may retch so violently as to tear the lining of the throat. The vocal cords become paralyzed, distorting the voice. Saliva may become thick and heavy. And then comes the madness.

“At the peak of excitement, the patient’s whole nervous system seems to be aroused. He is in a state of extreme agitation and has frightening hallucinations. His face is a mask of terror. He shouts incomprehensibly at the top of his distorted voice. His body is racked with tremors or spasms. He may struggle frantically and powerfully to free himself from constraints and try to escape from the room.”

Episodes of madness continue until the victim falls into a coma; this is followed by paralysis and death. Sometimes the madness includes ferocious, biting, attacks on anyone nearby. Sometimes it includes a sexual frenzy and attempted rape.

Sounds great.  I’ll keep the blog updated on the progress of the Rabies event, and should have pictures and video from World Rabies Day in early October.

Iringa film festival….

This is an advanced screening of an amazing film.  A directorial debut from a truly shitty filmmaker.  However, unlike Cannes or even Toronto, it’s free, you don’t have to travel far, and it’ll only take 12 minutes of your time.  This is the first cut.  It’s under review by the GL-CRSP studio for marketing and promotion on a real web-site, and if that ever happens, fantastic and I’ll send out the word.

And now, I am proud to present:

Comments and critiques are welcome and expected. Thanks for watching….