Friday, September 11, 2009

Chicken run in Arusha

Our 'luxury' bus finally rolled into Arusha after 10hours on the road. Paul and Zuberry from VetAid had heroically waited at the station for us and got us settled in some accommodation before bed.

The next day Caz and Lizzy woke up to a man outside their door selling paintings, but it wasn't long before our ride escorted us to the VetAid office where we received a warm welcome. We introduced ourselves and our Zanzibar project before demonstrating the phone, generating much excitement; so much so that a repeat performance to the Veterinary Investigation Centre (VIC) staff was waranted. Plans were made for the next day and we were moved to a slightly more respectable hotel without stretching our budget.

In th afternoon we headed into Arusha to hunt for means of safari/trecking and after much debate and negotiation landed on a trustworthy company operating at our hotel, with a view to climbing Mt Meru (Kilimanjaro's little brother) over the weekend.

This morning we were up early to see some of VetAid's work first hand vaccinating poultry against Newcastle Disease (ND). ND is a large problem across Tanzania, not only because it kills many birds, particularly in smallholder farms, but also because many of its symptoms are shared with Avian Influenza. Therefore the concern is that bird flu could arrive undetected behind an assumption of ND. Fortunately an effective, affordable and heat stable vaccine has been developed (I2 vaccine) which is administered as a single eye drop every 3 months - perfect! We off-roaded to a farm set in stunning surroundings at the foot of Mt Meru which hatched and reared cross breed chickens for meat and egg production. We arrived to see 700 birds in the barns, all needing their preciouse eye drops before they could return to their free range lifestyle. We quickly adapted our 'poultry handling best practice' taught at college to whatever worked and were soon well into the swing of things. Occasionally a nimble chicken would slip the net and charge into its vaccinated comrades - leading to some hillariouse chicken chasing. It was great to see the kind of work VetAid are doing and to get hands on with the animals - the farmers were all so welcoming to us.

Once the job was done we traveled back to Arusha to meet Dr Lynen, one of the leading experts in East Coast Fever vaccination and now heavily involved in its distribution in Tanzania. We had a very useful discussion about the current situation of ECF in Tanzania and got a very positive reaction to the mobile technology, which she thought could be particularly useful in keeping records of vaccination and check-ups.

This evening we had a local dinner down the road for about 50p and packed our bags ready for an early start to begin our ascent of Mt Meru.

Wish us luck!


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