Workshop November 2023


Mara North Conservancy Dog Project, Workshop November 2023

On November 2nd, four Danish, three Kenyan and two American veterinary students arrived in Mara North Conservancy to participate in the bi-annual MNC Dog project workshop. The project is organized and managed by Dr. Rikke Langebæk (University of Copenhagen), and chair of Karen Blixen Camp Trust, Dr. Stephen DeVincent (Tufts University). The students were supervised by veterinary surgeons from University of Nairobi (Dr. Esther Macharia and Dr. Specioza Chelang’an), and University of Copenhagen (Dr. Regitze Andersen and Dr. Sofie Skak). The students spent six days performing spay and castration surgeries on domestic dogs owned by the local Maasai. The dogs were also vaccinated against rabies, and received treatment for internal and external parasites (intestinal worms, ticks, fleas etc.).

The eighth time

This was the eighth time that the Mara North Conservancy (MNC) Dog project workshop has taken place, and we managed to break our own record – this time we did surgeries on 55 dogs, including 21 females! This amazing result not only shows that our previous work has created a nice routine by now, but that we have learned from former experiences. It also reflects what a great team of students we had this time. They worked as a proper team from the first day and did an excellent job helping each other as well as the supervisors. They also assisted local, indispensable team of men, who caught and transported dogs from the homesteads to the clinic in Mararienta.


A key person in the recruitment of dog owners to participate in the project and to the Mara North Conservancy vaccination program (distemper virus, parvovirus, hepatitis, and rabies) is Veterinary Technician, James Nayetuni. Before the veterinary team arrived in Mara North, James organized with individual dog owners, which dogs were to be picked up for surgery, and supervised the pick up (and post-operative delivery) from early morning to late afternoon. He is also responsible for carrying out vaccinations of all new puppies being born in the Mara North Conservancy.

As the distemper/hepatitis/parvovirus vaccines are very costly, and have a preventive effect for at least 3 years, the MNC Dog project has decided to vaccinate the new puppies once, when they are 6 months old. In this way we can protect as many dogs as possible, with the number of vaccines that we can manage to purchase. The dogs will hopefully be protected until they are 3½ years old or more – no one knows the actual efficacy.

A research project

We are planning to carry out a research project investigating the presence of antibodies in adult dogs that were vaccinated only once at 6 months. We estimate that the vaccinations that take place throughout each year cover more than 70-75% of the dog population in MNC, which is sufficient for so-called herd immunity. At present, the total population of domestic dogs in MNC is estimated at 3,000-4,000, so our efforts to decrease the population of dogs might seem futile. However, because of our presence in the spay/castration clinic, our talks in local schools, and James’s ongoing information campaign, it seems that the attitude in the community is changing. The local people see the benefits of having fewer, healthier dogs instead of many, hungry and roaming dogs with a constant stream of puppies.

Into the field

In order to reach the settlements located in the far corners of the Conservancy, the MNC Dog Project team goes into the field to perform the surgeries on the last day of the workshop. This time we headed for the southeastern part of the MNC, crossing the Olare Orok river. We had several heavy rain-showers the previous days, and we were worried that we would only have a few hours to work in due to the rain or would even have to cancel entirely. But a combination of efficient work (four surgeries at a time!) and pure luck (no rain until 2:00 PM) enabled us to do 11 surgeries before we had to pack our tent and drive back to Karen Blixen Camp.

The field day is quite an operation, with several vehicles transporting students, supervisors, helpers, surgical equipment, medicine, utensils, cages, water, tables, tent…and lunch, across the muddy, slippery grasslands of Mara. We were very grateful that two other Mara North Conservancy camps, Saruni and Serian, contributed to the project by providing vehicles for the field day. Saruni Camp has been a faithful supporter for the last few workshops, and we are happy that Serian has now joined the team of contributing camps, in the effort to solve a problem affecting the entire Conservancy.

Participating team

For the last 12 days, Karen Blixen Camp has been busy helping with every aspect of the MNC Dog Project. Now the students have departed  and camp seems a little quiet…until April 2024, when the dog project returns.

Danish Students

Mette Michelle Krogslund Sebelin

Nicole O’Reilly

Theresa Koch Mikkelsen

Louise Niiranen Jacobsen

Kenyan students

Wanjiru Ndegwa

Christopher Mutavi

Lenny Mengere Mureithi

American students

Hayley Hall

Natalia Pikula


University of Copenhagen:

Project leader, veterinary surgeon Dr. Rikke Langebæk

Veterinary surgeon Dr. Regitze Andersen

Veterinary anesthesiologist Dr. Hannah Sofie Skak Johanson (Skak)

Tufts University:

Veterinary internal medicine Dr. Stephen De Vincent

University of Nairobi:

Veterinary surgeon Dr. Esther Macharia

Veterinary surgeon Dr. Specioza Chelang’at

Narok County:

Veterinary practitioner, Dr. Leonard Kibet


Veterinary technician James Nayetuni

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