Wildlife Health

In the recent decades, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of wildlife pathogens for wildlife conservation. Indeed infectious diseases have compromised the conservation of many wildlife species worldwide (e.g. Ebola virus in Great Apes, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in amphibians, Pseudogymnoascus destructans in bats, Canine distemper virus in wild carnivores, etc…). Habitat disturbance and illegal wildlife trade, two of the main threats to biodiversity, are also key factors in the emergence of infectious diseases (e.g. SARS-Coronavirus, Ebola virus). There are, therefore, intimate linkages between wildlife health, public health, and wildlife and habitat conservation. Through the Wildlife Health Program, WCS has been at the forefront of the study of such linkages, through integrative and collaborative approaches.

In 2005, WCS started a Global Health Program (GHP) in Cambodia to take part in the surveillance of avian influenza in collaboration with the National Veterinary Research Institute (NaVRI) and the Wildlife Protection Office (WPO) across the country. Subsequently, the GHP expanded its wildlife disease surveillance activities from wild birds to wildlife bush-meat and amphibian under a variety of projects and funding sources (NIH, MCEIRS). From 2009 to 2014, WCS was involved in the USAID PREDICT project, to study the viral diversity in wildlife at key interfaces with livestock and humans.

Currently, WCS Cambodia is taking part in a project funded by the Commission of the European Union, under the leadership of Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC), for the “development of Lao PDR-Cambodia One Health surveillance and laboratory network” (LACANET). This project will contribute to building capacity for the surveillance and diagnosis of wildlife diseases, and understanding the role of land-use change in the emergence of zoonotic pathogens at the human-animal-environment interface.

The wildlife health team is also working in close collaboration with the conservation teams to identify and address disease threats in wildlife populations.


Latest News

Cambodia’s Ministries Come Together to Address Wildlife Trafficking by meng
A first-ever milestone event brought together Cambodian officials and others today to discuss law enforcement options and responses to wildlife trafficking –an increasing threat to the world’s wildlife species.

In attendance at the meeting were representatives from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Interior, Military Police, Anti-Corruption Unit, the diplomatic sector, and conservation NGOs.

“This is the first time that all of the relevant ministries have met to discuss this important issue,” said Sarah Brook, Technical Advisor for Counter Wildlife Trafficking for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). “We are pleased with the results of the meeting; a number of important recommendations were made by the participants on how to strengthen law enforcement and on the legal and regulatory issues around wildlife crime. We hope that the results of the meeting will be taken up by the respective ministries and we are committed to continue working with the government on this issue,” Brook said.
Over 150 Asian Giant Softshell Turtles Returns to the Wild by meng
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) in collaboration with Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration (FiA) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) released 150 Endangered Asian Giant Softshell Turtle hatchlings into their natural habitat along the Mekong River.
The hatchlings are part of a community protection program designed to increase the wild population of the species, and had been collected from nests that were guarded by local communities.

The Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) is listed on the IUCN Red List as globally Endangered. It was thought extinct in the Cambodian portion of the Mekong River until re-discovery in 2007 in a 48-kilometer stretch of the river between Kratie and Stung Treng Provinces.