TB in migrating buffalo threatens humans and animals in Zimbabwe

By PATRICE MAKOVA

Harare – Bovine tuberculosis has been detected in some buffaloes which have migrated from South Africa to Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou national park posing a threat to wildlife and humans in the area, a wildlife expert has said.

Dr Michel de Garine-Wichatitsky from the French Agricuctural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) which is working with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management and Veterinary services Department said a  research was  now being done to determine the extend of the problem.

“Research is also being done to find out if the bovine TB in the affected buffaloes  is a risk to other wildlife and to humans,” he said.

The TB discovery was made under the French funded Research Platform – Production and Conservation, whose objective is to contribute to sustainable development, conservation and improved livelihoods in Southern Africa through strengthening national research capacities, multi-disciplinary approaches and institutional partnerships with a focus on protected and neighbouring production areas.

Dr Garine-Wichatitsky said Zimbabwe can  recover economically and regain its breadbasket status through  improving its research on agriculture and wildlife as well as the training of skilled personnel such as scientists.

The Chairman of Scientific Steering Committee, Professor Eddie Mwenje said the Research Platform has succeed in making important scientific discoveries, projects and proposals in addition to training up to 50 Zimbabwe postgraduate science research students at the university of Zimbabwe, National University of Science and Technology and at French universities.

He said Zimbabwe is facing a serious shortage of scientists, as most scientists have left the country for greener pastures at the height of the economic crisis.

“Over 60 percent of scientific posts are vacant in the country. In terms of science professors, there is only a handful left in the country. The training of scientists is very vital for national development,” said Professor Mwenje.

“Through the Research Platform we are training lecturers and researchers at universities, as well as personnel from national parks, veterinary services and agricultural extension services, who are all critical for the future survival of the agricultural sector which is the backbone of the economy.,”

The Research Platform is led by an international and multi-disciplinary team of more than 50 lecturers, researchers and post graduate students and promotes applied research in four broad thematic areas of animal health and environment, ecology, conservation and agriculture and natural resources governance and institutions.

Meanwhile, the Research Platform, which was launched in 2007, has been extended by another three years, following the renewal of the agreement signed between  UZ, NUST and two French research organisations, CIRAD and CNRS.

Ambassador of France to Zimbabwe, Francois Ponge and officials from the Research Council of Zimbabwe witnessed the signing ceremony.

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