As of May 10th, thanks to a generous grant and donations, the Mad Dog Team is back in town, and the demand for the mobile veterinary clinic is as great as ever! The vets are working from dawn to dusk while the biologists survey little-known areas of the national park to assess the health of native wildlife communities!
A great many thanks to the important work and support of the Born Free Foundation and the Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation!
Born Free Foundation is delighted to announce that the 3rd Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation has been awarded to the Mad Dog Initiative, a project aiming to protect Madagascar’s rare and endemic wildlife through a targeted, compassionate program to control domestic and feral dogs in and around Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar.
The ultimate goal of the project is to understand and diminish the threat posed to endemic wildlife from domestic and feral dogs within rainforest habitat, employing spaying/neutering, vaccination and adoption programs for feral dogs, alongside wildlife monitoring, and extensive survey and educational programmes. The project will have wide-ranging impacts on conservation while also promoting and developing animal welfare across this biodiversity hotspot, benefitting wild animals such as carnivores, lemurs, and small mammals, the welfare of feral dogs, and the conservation and governmental organizations working towards wildlife conservation and improving the livelihoods of local people across this region.
Virginia McKenna OBE, founder of the Born Free Foundation, who met with Zoavina Randriana from the Mad Dog Initiative to present the Award, said: “I am so pleased that the Mad Dog Initiative has won this award. It embodies so much of what we regard as central to Compassionate Conservation. What I particularly admire about this project is that it is inclusive. It benefits wild animals, domestic dogs and people, and I hope will be an inspiration for others to follow.”
Our amazing team of researchers recently completed the first field season for the MDI project. We were able to spay/neuter and vaccinate more than 50 dogs (and 2 cats for good measure) within villages bordering the Ranomafana National Park. In addition, our vet student from the University of Antananarivo was able to conduct more than 250 questionnaires across this region to investigate the role of dogs in local villages and local people's views and husbandry practices towards dogs. These surveys will greatly improve our efforts to address the ultimate reasons as to why dogs are allowed to feral. Finally, camera trapping was a great success as well as our camera team was able to conduct photo surveys over a two month period across four villages bordering this amazing protected area. Currently, these thousands of photos are headed back to Virginia Tech where eager undergraduate students will be entering the data and identifying all the various species captured. After the second field season the data will be compiled and modeled to investigate numerous population parameters for both native and exotic species across the landscape.
The Mad Dog Initiative received funding from the Ruffourd Foundation to conduct our research on the use of domestic and feral dog spay/neuter, vaccination programs to control feral populations and, in turn, help protect and conserve Madagascar's threatened wildlife. We are truly grateful to this amazing organization for their support they have provided over the next two years! We are thrilled to represent their organization as we work towards conservation in Madagascar.