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Demography and dog-human relationships of the dog population in Zimbabwean communal lands
  1. J. R. A. Butler, BSc, MSc,DPhil1 and
  2. J. Bingham, BVSc, DPhil2,1
  1. 1 Wester Ross Fisheries Trust, Rose Cottage, Eilean Darach, Dundonnell, Wester Ross IV23 2QW
  2. 2 Central Veterinary Laboratory, PO Box CY 551, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe

Abstract

Dogs are Zimbabwe's primary vector for rabies, and the majority live in communal lands (traditional agropastoralist rural areas). In 1994, a household questionnaire survey was conducted to provide baseline data on the demography and dog-human relationships of the dogs in the communal lands. The survey showed that all the dogs were owned, and there was no evidence of a feral population. They were unrestricted and semi.dependent on people. The numbers of dogs per capita varied little in each communal land, resulting in higher dog densities in communal lands with higher human densities, and indicating that people were not intolerant of dogs at higher densities. The population turnover was rapid: the life expectancy of the dogs was 1.1 years, the mean age 2.0 years, and 71.8 per cent died in their first year. The population was heavily skewed towards juveniles, with 40.8 per cent aged less than 12 months. Despite the high juvenile mortality, the population was growing by 6.52 per cent per annum. It was estimated that in 1994 there were 1.36 million dogs in communal lands.

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