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Archive for the 'veterinary medicine' Category

The Rhino DNA Index System (RhODIS) is a secure database containing DNA profile data of individual rhinoceros. The extraction method has been optimized and is now used to individually identify rhinoceros horns from stockpiles and to link recovered horns to poaching cases. The information contained in this database has assisted in a number of convictions in South Africa and also one in the United Kingdom. This podcast contains a presentation on the Rhino DNA Index System that was made at the Society of Wildlife Forensic Science’s first triennial meeting in May 2012 by Cindy Harper, Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

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Marcela Uhart, Wildlife Conservation Society’s field veterinarian in Patagonia, Argentina, talks about the impact of lead ammunition on wildlife. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how spent ammunition remains in the environment where it can then be ingested by animals, especially waterfowl. Because they have no teeth, these birds swallow stones and seeds whole to help grind the food in their stomachs.

Argentina is known for its waterfowl hunting, and every year the number of birds killed is huge. However, switching from lead shot is a slow process because hunters have to accept the new ammunition and lead-free alternatives have to be available. In the United States, lead shot to hunt waterfowl in wetlands has been banned since 1991. This regulation came about mostly because bald eagles that preyed on the waterfowl were being poisoned. In addition, there are some more localized bans. For instance, California has banned the use of lead ammunition in the range of the endangered California Condor and Arizona has a voluntary ban. Also, early in 2010, the National Park Service announced a plan to ban lead ammunition and fishing tackle in the parks. Currently, twenty-nine other countries have adopted voluntary or legislative restrictions, with some of the most aggressive regulations having been adopted in Europe.

Dr. Uhart is trying to get similar restrictions in Argentina by studying the impact of lead pellets on waterfowl in Patagonia. Her research on recently-killed ducks has found lead in their blood, which indicates recent exposure, and their bones, which shows lead accumulation over time. Because she is sampling ducks who were healthy enough to fly and be shot, her research probably underestimates the full effects of lead toxicity. Consequently, her next step will be to assess sub-lethal impacts, such as changes in bone density.

Born and raised on a ranch in the Argentine pampas, Marcela Uhart has been a veterinarian with the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Field Veterinary Program since 1996. She spends much of her time in the field and often collaborates with numerous non-governmental organizations and researchers in Argentina while providing veterinary expertise in wildlife handling and immobilizations, translocations and health monitoring of wildlife populations. She has worked on a variety of species, including sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, small carnivores, caiman and raptors, as well as "agricultural-conflictive" species such as rheas, large rodents and large ungulates, including guanaco and pampas deer. Marcela has helped to introduce new policy measures to benefit wildlife, such as the establishment of a program to control agricultural pesticide use, implemented with the support and endorsement of an Argentine government research agency known as INTA. Marcela also acts as a consultant to field researchers and local conservation groups and has traveled to Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and other Latin American countries to provide her services. In November 1998, she became one of the founding members of the first Association of Latin American Wildlife Veterinarians. She is also the IUCN’s Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG) coordinator for South America. In this role she hopes to reinforce and revitalize the relationship between wildlife specialists from the developed and developing nations. In fact, since she started at WCS, Marcela has worked tirelessly to address the critical shortage of training opportunities for young veterinarians in Latin America. Professional outreach remains a major focus of her work, as does collaborating with local universities and leading workshops in several Latin American countries. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 25, 2010.

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Stephanie Vergniault, Founder and Executive Director of SOS Elephants, talks about elephant poaching in Chad. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that the situation is spiraling out of control. In just two-weeks, in February 2011, 20 elephants were killed in Chad for their ivory. All were killed outside of protected areas, making them easy targets. Vergniault notes that if poaching continues at this rate, “not a single elephant will be alive in Chad in three years time.”

Vergniault is doing all she can to stop this trend. For example, SOS Elephants has developed a network of 100 to 200 local people who inform the NGO about poaching activity, including providing positions of poachers or elephants. It then can alert Chadian government forces, (namely Mobile Forces of Protection of the Environment,) about the incidents. In fact, in mid-March 2011, government forces apprehended the poachers involved in the February incident. They also seized AK-47s, horses and 15 ivory tusks.

While in some regions tourism might provide an economic alternative, in Chad the prospects are limited because the elephants there have become so aggressive and often charge at people. “They are used to poachers,” Vergniault explains. “They have a good memory. To them, humans are bad.” As a result, SOS Elephants focuses on education and training in rural areas, discussing non-lethal alternatives, such as solar barriers or red pepper to discourage elephants from raiding crops and planting outside of elephant migration corridors. Vergniault knows that changing public attitudes both towards elephants and towards ivory is the only way to stop the killing, so SOS Elephants also spreads the word through sport. It’s NGO-sponsored soccer team, The Elephants, serves as an ambassador for the real elephants, furthering the message. It’s working, as more and more local teams are springing up spontaneously across the country.

Stephanie Vergniault is the founder and Executive Director of SOS Elephants in Chad. As a French lawyer specializing in elections and governance, she became passionate about her work overseas and traveled around the world to work in places like Nicaragua, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia, Gabon, and Chad. She first came to Chad in 1995 to work with the government on electoral assistance. At that time, as a guest of the Head of State, she had a desire to see the elephants and was struck by their dire situation. When she returned in 2007, she was shocked by the massive slaughter that was occurring. That’s when she decided to take action and, in 2009, Stephanie created the non-governmental organization in Chad called SOS Elephants. SOS Elephants is dedicated to the preservation of elephants and their habitats in Chad and its neighbors. It works through a combination of methods including research, education, conservation and counter poaching actions. Vergniault now lives in Chad and works closely with local communities. One of the newest projects Stephanie has undertaken is building an elephant orphanage for the baby elephants who are orphaned after their mothers are poached for their ivory. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 11, 2011.

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Anna Bachmann, Director of Conservation for Nature Iraq, and Hana Ahmed Raza, their mammals specialist, discuss wildlife and nature in Iraq. They tell “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how, after 35 years of wars and sanctions, Iraq’s environment is in dire need of care and attention. In order to rebuild the country’s natural foundation, more information is needed, and Nature Iraq aims to fill some of those gaps.

Nature Iraq is an Iraqi non-governmental organization to protect, restore, and preserve Iraq’s natural environment and the rich cultural heritage that it nourishes. It does this both by improving the capacity of Iraq’s institutions and developing scientific databases of environmental conditions and trends within the country. In this interview, you’ll hear how Iraq’s marshlands, which were destroyed by Saddam Hussein because they were the base of his opposition, have been partially restored and how Nature Iraq is working with the government to create a national park there. You’ll also hear how Nature Iraq is undertaking biological assessments to identify other key areas to protect and working to get Iraq to join the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Anna Bachmann is the Director of Conservation for Nature Iraq. Originally from Washington State in the United States, in 2003 Anna traveled to Iraq as a peace activist and subsequently moved to the Middle East to work on environmental issues in Iraq.  She has lived and worked in the region for the past six years, four of those years based in Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq).  Anna manages the Key Biodiversity Areas Project focused on identifying areas within Iraq that are globally important for their biological diversity.

Hana Ahmed Raza is Nature Iraq’s mammals specialist. Hana was born in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. She graduated from the Biology department of Sulaimaniyah University about a year ago and then started working with Nature Iraq in the field of mammals. She’s the lead author of an upcoming report on "Animal Trade and Hunting in Iraq" and is the focal point of Nature Iraq efforts regarding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). She also works on broader studies of mammals in Iraq. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 28, 2011.

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Wildlife veterinarian Steve Osofsky shares his adventures as the first wildlife veterinarian in Botswana. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme some captivating stories – like how he played “MacGyver” and used locally available materials to run medical tests on eland, and when he stared down an angry elephant who’d woken up a might too soon after being darted and entered his helicopter before he did! Dr. Osofsky worked for years at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas as the Director of Animal Health Services, where he cared for a variety of exotic game, before moving to Botswana in 1991 when he became the first Wildlife Veterinary Officer for Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism). Since leaving Botswana, his career expanded well outside the bounds of a traditional veterinary clinical career into a variety of policy positions, including at the U.S. Agency for International Development and World Wildlife Fund. Since 2002, he’s been at the Wildlife Conservation Society, first as that organization’s first Senior Policy Advisor for Wildlife Health and now as Director of Wildlife Health Policy. In addition to his current position with WCS, Dr. Osofsky is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland and has served on eight International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 22, 2010 and was rebroadcast on February 28, 2011.

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Wildlife biologist Susan Jewell shares her adventures studying wildlife throughout the East Coast. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about her trials and tribulations as she rehabilitated owls, cared for rattlesnakes, chased an escaped coyote, tracked the elusive bobcat, investigated the habits of wood storks and slogged after alligators. She’s a modern day “Indiana Jane” of the wild world who has researched wildlife from Maine to Florida by motorboat, airboat, canoe, airplane, helicopter, tree climbing, scuba diving, and muddy feet. She has worked for the National Audubon Society, the National Park Service, and others. Since 1992, she has been a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In her spare time, she is a freelance writer on wildlife and environmental issues.  Her books include Exploring Wild South Florida:  A Guide To Finding the Natural Areas and Wildlife of the Southern Peninsula and Florida Keys, Exploring Wild Central Florida: A Guide to Finding the Natural Areas and Wildlife of the Central Peninsula and her most recent, Gators, Gourdheads and Pufflings: A Biologist Slogs, Climbs and Wings her Way to Save Wildlife. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 1, 2010 and was rebroadcast on February 21, 2011.

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Marcela Uhart shares her adventures as a wildlife field veterinarian in Patagonia, Argentina. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme the difficulties of handling and monitoring the health of diverse wildlife populations, from elephant seals and southern right whales to penguins and other seabirds. For instance, how do you immobilize a 1-2 ton animal? If you haven’t been to Patagonia, you’ll want to visit this rugged wilderness that stretches from the granite peaks of the Andes mountains to the desolate Atlantic coast. There, southern right whales gather to breed, a sizable southern elephant seal colony makes its home, and the world's largest Magellanic penguin colony lives.

Born and raised on a ranch in the Argentine pampas, Marcela Uhart has been a veterinarian with the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Field Veterinary Program since 1996. She spends much of her time in the field and often collaborates with numerous non-governmental organizations and researchers in Argentina while providing veterinary expertise in wildlife handling and immobilizations, translocations and health monitoring of wildlife populations. She has worked on a variety of species, including sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, small carnivores, caiman and raptors, as well as "agricultural-conflictive" species such as rheas, large rodents and large ungulates, including guanaco and pampas deer. Marcela has helped to introduce new policy measures to benefit wildlife, such as the establishment of a program to control agricultural pesticide use, implemented with the support and endorsement of an Argentine government research agency known as INTA. Marcela also acts as a consultant to field researchers and local conservation groups and has traveled to Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and other Latin American countries to provide her services. In November 1998, she became one of the founding members of the first Association of Latin American Wildlife Veterinarians. She is also the IUCN’s Wildlife Health Specialist Group (WHSG) coordinator for South America. In this role she hopes to reinforce and revitalize the relationship between wildlife specialists from the developed and developing nations. In fact, since she started at WCS, Marcela has worked tirelessly to address the critical shortage of training opportunities for young veterinarians in Latin America. Professional outreach remains a major focus of her work, as does collaborating with local universities and leading workshops in several Latin American countries. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on February 7, 2010.

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Tracy O’Toole talks about the illegal international pet trade in Central America and what happens to birds, primates and other animals once they’re confiscated by wildlife law enforcement. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the challenges facing wildlife rescue centers and what’s required for successful rehabilitation and release of seized wildlife. Listen and hear how parrots rescued from the fate of being illegally shipped around the world must relearn to fly and hunt, why release sites are so important for success, and the psychological impact of the process on the animals. Tracy O’Toole currently serves as the Director of Wildlife Development Programs for the International Trade and Development Division of Humane Society International.  She oversees programs to build capacity in Central America for enforcement of laws to stop wildlife trafficking and for establishment and running of wildlife rescue centers. She also works on public education and outreach programs to combat illegal wildlife trade throughout the region. Before joining the Humane Society, Ms. O’Toole worked extensively in the fields of international development and conservation for various donor organizations including the U.S. Agency for International Development and Europe Aid. She holds a master’s in International Business, a B.A. in International Relations, and is fluent in French, Portuguese and Spanish. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 11, 2010 and was rebroadcast on August 23, 2010.

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Wildlife veterinarian Steve Osofsky enjoys the second of his two-part interview when he talks about the intersection between wildlife, livestock and human health. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that, as more countries in southern Africa and around the world find their nature-based activities contributing more to their economies than traditional land uses of forestry, fisheries and agriculture, there is an increased need to understand how wildlife, livestock and human health interact to avoid unintended consequences and maximize benefits. He provides concrete examples of innovative ways of managing livestock and wildlife diseases to create win-win opportunities for all. Dr. Osofsky worked for years at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas as the Director of Animal Health Services, where he cared for a variety of exotic game, before moving to Botswana in 1991 when he became the first Wildlife Veterinary Officer for Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism). Since leaving Botswana, his career expanded well outside the bounds of a traditional veterinary clinical career into a variety of policy positions, including at the U.S. Agency for International Development and World Wildlife Fund. Since 2002, he’s been at the Wildlife Conservation Society, first as that organization’s first Senior Policy Advisor for Wildlife Health and now as Director of Wildlife Health Policy. In addition to his current position with WCS, Dr. Osofsky is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland and has served on eight International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on March 1, 2010.

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