As we approach 2023, I’d like to reflect back on VIEW’s work this year in 2022. Our tenet at VIEW is preventative health for wildlife - which is fundamentally grounded in the importance of proactive protocols that help detect and prevent disease transmission and reduce health risks. Integrating the One Health concept that all life is inextricably linked, VIEW’s focus expands across ecosystems - thereby not only positively impacting wildlife, but also livestock/domestic animals, and human populations. From our continued work in North America and Asia to our developing programs in Africa, this past year has also centered on the importance of integrating technology for advancing disease prevention and rapid response to health threats. With Wildlife Health Information System (WHIS ), VIEW’S pioneering digital disease surveillance system, we aim to help field conservationists use technology to be more efficient, connected, and better informed as they strive to protect the health of the endangered species they care for. Please see the following sections for more insight into the progress we’ve made in 2022 toward our goal of integrating WHIS into each program.
Read HERE about our development achievements for WHIS in 2022.
Our Work with North American Wildlife
VIEW veterinarians have been working with one of our pilot partners, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), to begin to incorporate historical and current wildlife health data into their customized version of WHIS.
The Oregon partnership brings to WHIS a large existing database and an engaged wildlife health unit to fully demonstrate the ease of use, exceptional data access, and superior reporting features that are important to a large state institution.
VIEW Veterinarian, Dr. Kaiser, has been working closely with the state wildlife veterinarians, to implement WHIS in a time crucial for wildlife health. While visiting their lab, he saw dozens of deceased animals, reports, and calls coming in each and every day. “The sheer number of reports and cases is astounding. Implementing WHIS will allow for faster reporting of disease outbreaks, such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, and streamline research and conservation efforts”, says Dr. Kaiser. The next steps are to help ODFW with its immense caseload by integrating the platform into its department’s protocols.
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Our Work with Asian Elephants
Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus hemorrhagic disease (EEHV-HD) is one of the most devastating diseases of Asian elephants worldwide, causing the death of over half of young elephants born in western countries, and is the subject of intense research. We have partnered with colleagues at the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and elephant veterinarians and virologists specializing in EEHV to develop better tools to monitor and prevent this disease. VIEW will be supporting the implementation of WHIS to enable the monitoring of one of the largest populations of captive elephants in the world. Our goal in 2022 has been to customize a WHIS site for research, translate the site into local languages, and train our conservation partners to begin inputting historical elephant records. We are also developing a smartphone app that will enable local elephant veterinarians to input information into WHIS from the field. In 2023 we are planning to train more than 100 elephant veterinarians and caregivers on the use of WHIS and our new app. With the implementation of the WHIS program, elephant caregivers will reap valuable benefits beyond investigating the herpes virus that will enable general health surveillance and tracking for all elephants. The results of the research will have an enormous impact on the health and prevention of disease for elephants worldwide.
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Our Work with African Wildlife
While we have the long-term goal of integrating WHIS into our Africa program, our work in Africa represents a much larger objective. Starting in Akagera National Park, Rwanda, VIEW is expanding our proven template by initiating a wildlife health program on the ground as we did in Nepal. Working with local partners, we are developing a comprehensive wildlife health program to include best practice protocols, disease risk assessments, and the implementation of proactive biosurveillance in Akagara National Park, Africa. In addition, we look forward to establishing the WHIS health database in 2023 - to not only enable the storage and analysis of health data but also inform best practice guidelines. Before we can introduce WHIS, we must build a foundation that will allow a sustainable wildlife health program for continued and iterative use beyond VIEW’s involvement. Much of the year was focused on establishing those partnerships while conducting a gap analysis, planning program activities, and searching for funds in support of our efforts. Dr. Lauren Ellis, new to VIEW in September, is living in Akagara National Park to help initiate on-the-ground programming whilst, Dr. Dawn Zimmerman and Dr. Deborah McCauley work both remotely and in-country developing programs, implementing training workshops and connecting with partners both locally and internationally.
2023 will be a big year on the ground for our Africa program. We intend to work alongside VIEW partners to promote knowledge exchange and build local capacity in wildlife veterinary medicine and research. Additionally, we plan to hold workshops for Rwandan veterinarians and wildlife professionals centered around general veterinary best practices, targeting elephant and rhino medicine, One Health, and conservation.
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I am proud of the progress that VIEW's team has made toward each program's goals in 2022. We look forward to continuing strategic steps to protect endangered wildlife by tackling the health threats they face in their native habitats. Working with communities to build a long-lasting program is the only way to ensure success in the long term - starting with disease prevention. Please click the green buttons in each section to learn in more detail about VIEW’s focal programs that we plan to grow in 2023. Please support VIEW, I encourage you to click the orange button below so that you can be a part of preventing wildlife extinction in a sustainable way that will last for decades to come.
We cannot do this pioneering work without the generosity so many of you have given us over the years. Please consider a gift to VIEW this season to help us continue to spread our work to save our most vulnerable species.
Dr. Deborah McCauley
Founder & Executive Director
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