PAST RESEARCH PROJECTS
AFRICAN SWINE FLU ASSESSMENT
African swine fever (ASF) is an economically important disease in domestic pigs with outbreaks resulting in pricing volatility in pig commodities. ASF is highly contagious among domestic pigs and outbreaks can result in mortalities approaching 100%. Wild Suidae (warthog and bushpigs) are considered asymptomatic reservoirs for the ASF virus and can be hosts for O. moubata ticks, an ASF vector. With no vaccine for ASF, these species maintain the transmission cycle of the virus with domestic pigs.
In the 1980s an enzootic ASF virus region of Malawi (8000 km2) was identified and anticipated to expand given the wide distribution O. moubata in the country. This study aimed to assess if the enzootic ASF virus region in Malawi has expanded in line with earlier predictions, based on prevalence of ASF virus in O. moubata.
Searches for O. moubata and interviews with farmers took place in three of Malawi’s Agricultural Development Divisions: Salima, Lilongwe and Mchinji. Pig kholas (76 in total) were searched in all three divisions. Warthog burrows (18 in total) were searched in the Salima division. Searches yielded 75 O. moubata in one khola in the Mchinji division. The presence of O. moubata was not recorded in any other kholas or burrows. Tests for ASF virus were conducted on each O. moubata collected using SDS DNA extraction and PCR analysis.
Recent confirmed cases of ASF by regional Animal Health Officers in the Lilongwe division suggest an expansion of the enzootic ASF virus region. However, this study found a limited and potentially decreasing density and distribution of O. moubata, with low levels of infection (11 %) in the species. Furthermore, distribution of O. moubata was congruent with the enzootic ASF virus region of Malawi, thereby suggesting that ASF cases outside of this region are due to poor biosecurity practices or contact between pigs and wild suids rather than spread through tick infections.
- Department of Animal Health and Livestock Development
- Kuti Wildlife Reserve
SEARCHING FOR SAMANGOS: AN ASSESSMENT OF SUBSPECIES AND POPULATION DISTRIBUTION IN MALAWI
In Malawi there is a lack of baseline data required to create effective management and conservation strategies for primate species. Yet there are very few studies on primate distribution, ecology and status in the country. We aimed to fill this gap by assessing the occupancy, distribution and habitat characteristics of samango monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis) across Malawi.
We conducted presence/absence surveys at nine sites between 2017-2019. At each site we conducted walking transects and vegetation plots. Habitat characteristics were measured for spatial geometry of each forest patch using satellite imagery and floral composition from vegetation plots. Area and irregularity of patch shape as well as vegetation composition were found to influence the presence of C. mitis. Several adaptations were observed in fragmented landscapes and observed troop size appeared small with an average of less than 20 individuals. Anthropogenic disturbances were recorded in nearly all of the forest areas surveyed.
Data from this study will inform local area management as well as add knowledge on adaptations of forest-dwelling primates in response to increasing habitat fragmentation.
- Nyika National Park
- Lifuwa Hill
- Ntchisi Forest Reserve
- Viphya Complex Forest Reserve
- Zomba Plateau
- Zulunkhuni Forest Reserve
- Satemwa Tea Plantation
- Lukwe Forest Reserve
- Kaningina Forest Reserve
- Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve
Department of National Parks and Wildlife
Primate Conservation, Inc.