The lions of Serengeti National Park in anzania must be cured of canine distemper. Veterinarians working with the Institute of Zoology in London and the various national parks in the country have resolved to deal with the menace - that has killed almost 1,000 lions since mid-1993 - once and for all.

As the disease is spread through domestic dogs living on the borders of the park, a team. of vets has embarked on a 'vaccination campaign', immunising dogs in the adjoining villages. However, vaccinating all dogs around the border would be an uphill task. "There are lots of dogs, they have a high birth rate - so there are always lots of new susceptible animals," says Sarah Cleaveland, a vet researcher working in Serengeti. "The question is, will 3 to 4 years of intensive vaccination be enough to eliminate the disease?" she wonders.

The funding for the first phase of the programme comes from Project Life Lion, set up by Steve Sampson of the Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, uK. Solvay, an American drug company, has donated 30,000 shots of distemper vaccine, enough to last the first year of the campaign, which will be officially launched next year.

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