Mark your calendars! Mpala will be hosting a live chat with Adam Ferguson this Thursday, March 23rd, at 10 am PST!
Adam Ferguson is an evolutionary ecologist interested in the natural history, conservation, and disease of small carnivores (members of the order Carnivora < 15 kg). He is currently the head of head of the Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign (LRVC) is a group-effort that works to fulfill a critical need for domestic dog vaccinations against rabies in rural communities of Laikipia County, Kenya. Rural communities, especially children, are at greatest risk of dog-mediated rabies in Kenya, where an estimated 2,000 people die of this disease every year, and yet these communities often receive the least attention when it comes to rabies control efforts. Through the LRVC we help to provide no-cost vaccinations of domestic dogs, the major reservoirs for human rabies cases in Kenya, to people with little to no access to rabies prevention measures, thereby protecting both the lives of the people and their canine companions that compose such an integral part of their pastoral culture.
The goal of my work at Mpala is to examine how the interplay between human disturbance, behavior, and immunity functions to shape parasite dynamics in a guild of small carnivores. Methodologically we use a series of techniques including live-trapping, radio telemetry, and laboratory assays to address how small carnivores living on conservancies without permanent settlements differ from those living on group ranches with permanent settlements. As many of these small carnivore species have never been studied in great detail in regards to parasites/diseases, much of what we do is exploratory in nature to gather baseline data on the roles that these species may play in parasite/disease transmission among the larger carnivore community inhabiting Mpala. In addition to the Small Carnivore Research and Parasite Study (SCRAPS), I also work with an MS student on addressing the spatial and disease ecology of domestic dogs living along the human-wildlife-livestock interface in Kenya.
You can watch the live chat here!