Improving Village Chicken Health to Promote Public Health and Decrease Bushmeat Hunting in the Makira Natural Park, Madagascar
In the Makira Natural Park (MNP) in Northeastern Madagascar, wildlife is an important nutritional resource. People hunt animals to meet their own basic needs for survival. In the MNP, bushmeat hunting is occurring at unsustainable rates for many endangered species, including indri (Indri indri), black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata), brown lemurs (Eulemur spp.), and bamboo lemurs (Hapelemur griseus).5,6 One of the few assets owned by households are chickens, which could play a significant role to improve household nutrition and income, and reduce wildlife hunting if recurrent diseases could be controlled and chicken management could be improved.1,2,6 In 2011, we visited three communities in the MNP to understand the constraints to chicken production. Through participatory exercises, and health and husbandry evaluations, we determined that the main problem with chickens is Newcastle disease (ND).1 An important chicken disease worldwide, ND is best controlled with vaccination, though husbandry and biosecurity practices can reduce the risk of introduction of ND virus or reduce its spread once it has arrived. We reviewed quarantine and biosecurity, chick rearing and brooding hen management, parasite control, and nutrition.1,3 The remote location of the communities and the warm regional climate make it difficult to maintain a vaccine cold chain, necessitating a thermotolerant vaccine such as NDV4-HR and I-2 ND.4 At present neither of these vaccines is available in Madagascar. A vaccine campaign and poultry health education program, integrated with ecological education and monitoring, and bushmeat consumption monitoring is being planned for 2015.
This study was supported by the San Francisco Zoo Conservation Committee, Saint Louis Zoo Field Research for Conservation Program, and Wildlife Health Network.
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