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Assessment of community awareness and risk perceptions of zoonotic causes of abortion in cattle at three selected livestock–wildlife interface areas of Zimbabwe

  • M. NDENGU (a1) (a2), M. DE GARINE-WICHATITSKY (a2) (a3) (a4), D. M. PFUKENYI (a1) (a2), M. TIVAPASI (a1) (a2), B. MUKAMURI (a2) (a5) and G. MATOPE (a2) (a6)...

A study was conducted to assess the awareness of cattle abortions due to brucellosis, Rift Valley fever (RVF) and leptospirosis, and to compare frequencies of reported abortions in communities living at the periphery of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area in southeastern Zimbabwe. Three study sites were selected based on the type of livestock–wildlife interface: porous livestock–wildlife interface (unrestricted); non-porous livestock–wildlife interface (restricted by fencing); and livestock–wildlife non-interface (totally absent or control). Respondents randomly selected from a list of potential cattle farmers (N = 379) distributed at porous (40·1%), non-interface (35·5%) and non-porous (26·4%), were interviewed using a combined close- and open-ended questionnaire. Focus group discussions were conducted with 10–12 members of each community. More abortions in the last 5 years were reported from the porous interface (52%) and a significantly higher per cent of respondents from the porous interface (P < 0·05) perceived wildlife as playing a role in livestock abortions compared with the other interface types. The odds of reporting abortions in cattle were higher in large herd sizes (odds ratio (OR) = 2·6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·5–4·3), porous (OR = 1·9; 95% CI 1·0–3·5) and non-porous interface (OR = 2·2; 95% CI 1·1–4·3) compared with livestock–wildlife non-interface areas. About 21·6% of the respondents knew brucellosis as a cause of abortion, compared with RVF (9·8%) and leptospirosis (3·7%). These results explain to some extent, the existence of human/wildlife conflict in the studied livestock–wildlife interface areas of Zimbabwe, which militates against biodiversity conservation efforts. The low awareness of zoonoses means the public is at risk of contracting some of these infections. Thus, further studies should focus on livestock–wildlife interface areas to assess if the increased rates of abortions reported in cattle may be due to exposure to wildlife or other factors. The government of Zimbabwe needs to launch educational programmes on public health awareness in these remote areas at the periphery of transfrontier conservation areas where livestock–wildlife interface exists to help mitigate the morbidity and mortality of people from some of the known zoonotic diseases.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr. M. Ndengu, Department of Clinical Veterinary Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe. (Email:,
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