April 2020 – April 2023
Zimbabwe, South Africa
How does climate change modify interactions among wildlife, livestock and human in a hot spot of biodiversity in Africa? Which are the consequences for infectious diseases? This study is at the interface between communal and protected areas in Zimbabwe.
Two pillars of this project are coordinated by researchers of the IRL REHABS.
There is now no doubt that climate is changing. The African continent, where temperatures are rising faster than the global rate, will be particularly affected. Since the 1970s, droughts have been more frequent and more severe. The most recent severe drought in Ethiopia in 2017 that killed 2 billion livestock is one example of what could become more frequent in the future. There is also a strong probability of an increased frequency of high-intensity rainfall events. Cyclone Idai that struck southern Africa in 2019 illustrates the intensity of such extreme events with 2 million human victims including more than 1000 deaths. Climate change could result in significant losses of African plant species and of over 50 % bird and mammal species by 2100. Around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
In response to this biodiversity crisis, conservation movements have tried to raise awareness but these efforts seem to be inefficient. For instance, the population of large mammals in Africa has declined by 59% between 1970 and 2005. From the “nature for itself” before 1970, conservation strategies changed from 2010 to a new fad based on the coexistence of “people and nature” in socio-ecosystems where sustainable and resilient interactions between human societies and the natural environment are now promoted. However, the risks for wildlife, livestock and human in term of infectious diseases in this context of species extinctions, climate change and resource limitation are not well understood in the scientific literature. Addressing the consequences of the extinction of 1 million species for infectious diseases’ dynamics is therefore critical.
The HUM-ANI project will develop its activities in Zimbabwe, a semi-arid country in austral Africa, in the heart of two transfrontier conservation areas (TFCA): KAZA and LIMPOPO, where connectivity between protected areas across countries has been created to allow free movements of wild animals with the consequence of offering more porosity with communal areas.
The main objective is to understand the various aspects of diseases transmission around protected areas and the impact of anthropogenic factors (mainly climate change) on the future evolution of transmission and the consequences for human health, animal health and conservation. Moreover, the research project HUM-ANI will address the following questions: Where to go when the availability of water and grass decreases? Protected Areas as a refuge: How interactions between humans, domestic & wild animals will be impacted by climate change? What are the consequences for infectious diseases dynamics?
There are various specific objectives:
- characterize the community of hosts in contacts (wild, domestic animals & humans) at the interface between protected and communal areas in three socio-ecosystems (SE) under differing climate conditions
- characterize the movements and habitat use of the different species in one community of hosts
- use social network analyses to characterize interactions among hosts and their variation according to the season and the climatic conditions in the 3 host communities
- monitor the spatio-temporal dynamics of a marker of transmission (i.e. Foot and Mouth disease) in the multi hosts community
- study the evolution of a pathogen infecting multiple hosts according to the contacts rates, determine origin, maintenance populations and directionality of the transmission
- model how loss of biodiversity, increased temperatures and decreased rainfall are likely to modify the host contact networks and the resulting infectious diseases risks for wildlife, livestock and humans
- produce keys indicators and decision-support tools for stakeholders and the civil society to manage complex SE under climate change
- to raise awareness on ecological , epidemiological and sociological factors influencing the functioning of complex SE under climate chance
- Research Platform "Production and Conservation in Partnership"
- University of Zimbabwe: Veterinary science and the Centre for Applied Social Sciences
- Chinhoyi University of Technology: School of Wildlife, Ecology and Conservation
- University Nelson Mandela: Sustainable Research Unit
- University of Oxford: Department of Statistics
- Imperial College London: MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine.
- IRL REHABS
Scientific coordination: Eve Miguel, IRD.