Threat to Wildlife & Humans

Canine diseases can have an impact on both human health and domestic and wild animals. Two major pathogens, rabies and canine distemper virus (CDV), are of principle concern for the pastoralist Maasai community adjacent to the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The communities living in the Trans Mara District adjacent to the Mara Triangle keep an estimated 10,000 dogs for livestock herding and household protection.  These dogs are in close contact with both humans and wild predators, and thus increase the threat of desease transmission to both populations.

Children from Angata Barikoi area bring their puppies for vaccination.

Children from Angata Barikoi area bring their puppies for vaccination.


Rabies is a complex and nearly always fatal disease of all warm-blooded animals. Frequent and random cases involving rabid dog attacks on both humans and livestock used to be reported regularly on the escarpment, especially among individuals aged under 15, before the vaccinations took place.


Canine Distemper Virus

Canine distemper virus (CDV) is capable of affecting both domestic dogs and wild carnivores, such as lion, jackal, hyena cheetah, wild dog and bat-eared fox. In 1994, a outbreak of a mutated strain of CDV killed more than 1,000 lions in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.  Subsequent research in the Serengeti showed that CDV in the wild carnivores was maintained solely by the domestic dog infections around the Park.  In 2007, there was a massive outbreak of CDV amongst domestic canine population which killed off nearly 1,000 dogs in  6 months period near the park.  Our dog vaccination program was launched in the same year in an attempt to control the disease which could potentially have a devastating effect on our wild carnivore population. 

Domestic dog which died from CDV infection in 2007.

Domestic dog which died from CDV infection in 2007.


The only way we can control the outbreak of canine distemper in domestic dogs and to avoid the spread of disease to wild carnivores is through the preventive vaccination of healthy populations. Mara Conservancy has been vaccinating domestic dogs and cats in the Trans Mara District since 2007 as part of a community conservation project that protects the health of wildlife, domestic animals and people living near the Mara Triangle.  Annually we vaccinate over 8,000 dogs living around the park boundary.

Your Support is Essential!

Our dog vaccination work is supported by the donation made by people worldwide who cares about our wild carnivores and wellbeing of the people who live adjacent to the national reserve.

To help continue this invaluable project, please donate to Mara Conservancy

This website describes Canine Distemper Virus in further detail.
This is an article written by the veterinarian who has carried out a ring vaccination of domestic dogs surrounding Serengeti to control the disease outbreak in lions.