ROLES OF VETERINARIANS IN WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

Author: Azeez Habeeb Tayo (Volunteer with Wildlife of Africa Conservation)

During the 1990s and early 2000, the roles that veterinarians can play in conservation initiatives became much appreciated. The knowledge and skills that veterinarians have can be particularly useful in studies of wildlife ecology and conservation.

In the past 20years, the studies of the ecology of some species of wildlife have begun in order to unravel some of their mysteries. Government, Nongovernmental organizations and funding agencies around the world initiated to development of National parks, Zoological gardens and protected areas necessary for the long term survival of wildlife species. 

One of the roles played by veterinarians was to chemically immobilize wildlife so that telemetry collars containing a global positioning satellites system could safely be placed. The basic knowledge of veterinarians on anaesthetic principles, including how to use a potent opioid agonist and the anatomy and physiology of wildlife was instrumental in performing safe anaesthesia in these wildlife species.

Veterinarians are well trained in anaesthetic and immobilization techniques, all veterinarians have knowledge on how anaesthesia works. Veterinarians have vital roles in the successful outcome of these conservation initiatives.

Recently, a pandemic of fibropapillomatosis has been causing high morbidity and mortality rates among marine turtles throughout the world, also vets around the world have been playing roles. The health assessment program was evaluated; specimens and data were collected from a number of marine turtle species in order to determine the health status of the various population. Samples were tested for baseline hematological and serum biochemical value, exposure to toxins and parasite infection.

In conclusion, wildlife health is crucial for wildlife conservation, and the skills and knowledge that veterinarians have ranged from anaesthesia and clinical skills to knowledge on disease ecology and epidemiology, allow them to play a functional role in conservation initiatives.

It is now evident that in today’s world, ecosystem health is as important as public health for the long term survival of our species. Therefore all veterinarians have a great deal to offer to ensure the health of animals, people and ultimately the ecosystem.

REFERENCES

  1. Blake S, Douglas-Hamilton I, Karesh WB. GPS telemetry of forest elephants in Central Africa.
  2. Aguirre AA, O’Hara TM, Spraker TR et.al. Monitoring the health and conservation of marine mammals, sea turtle and ecosystem.