Friday, July 30, 2010

Buffalo testing

Because African buffalos are closely related to domestic livestock they can get infected with the same infectious diseases. Because wild animals do not need to produce 40 litres of milk a day or high quality beef, they are able to focus on the most natural goal in life: to stay healthy! Therefore they do not get ill from diseases what can make domestic cattle or goats very ill and sometimes even kill them. As we all know, most infectious diseases are devastating for a farmer. Because African buffalos can carry highly contagious and dangerous diseases without even showing a single symptom, it can be problematic to prevent them to transmit any diseases. Therefore the South African veterinary authorities decided to only allow African buffalos with the "disease free" status in areas where domestic livestock is kept. This is the complete country except the area of the Kruger NP, so the demand for these buffalos got so high that the price of these animals increased with the same speed. At a certain time a "disease free buffalo" was worth more than a white rhinoceroses, so it's worth the effort. Also it's important for the survival of the species to have enough disease free animals. Especially the long-term effects of e.g. Tuberculosis on the African buffalos in Kruger NP are worrying. To get the status 'disease free' an African buffalo has been tested negative 5 times for the following diseases: tuberculosis, brucellosis (both bacterials), Corridor's disease (a blood parasite) and fouth and mouth disease (a virus). For the Tuberculosis test each buffalo has to be darted twice: first to inject the tuberculin and second to measure the thickness of the skin (in a TB positive buffalo the skin swells up, the same as the Mantaux test in humans).

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