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Dogs of Lamu

One can hardly come across a dog in Lamu town but there are many on the ‘shambas’, the farms on the islands, where they are kept as guard dogs, not against human thieves but against wild animals, particularly baboons, marauding the crops. It is a common belief that dogs be kept locked in a small space or on a short chain during the day to make them more “kali” (aggressive in Swahili) at night. Being confined makes them highly prone to mango worm infestation – a painful condition often resulting in death. Other common ailments are trypanosomiasis caused by the tsetse fly, tick fever, mange, fungal skin infections and dreadful wounds, often lethal caused by battles with baboons. And since most of the owners are poor, the dogs’ diets are almost inevitably inadequate. It is however quite noticeable how guard dogs have gained better health over time with only basic treatment against parasites infestation and systematic immunization against puppy diseases and rabies .

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