Scarlet Macaws:
Plagued by Poachers and Bees
Less than 1,000 Scarlet macaws (Ara Macao ) are believed to remain across the habitat corridor that encompasses Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. They are threatened by loss of habitat and increasingly by wildlife traffickers who target their young for the pet trade. In addition, their nests have been attacked by highly aggressive, Africanized bees that can kill parent birds or drive them away to leave fledglings abandoned to starve. Our health team in Guatemala is assisting with the hand-rearing of fledglings from affected nests and studying the health of Scarlet macaws and their nests in the wild. Such efforts are critical to their conservation, with the pressure of poaching now threatening these birds with extinction in Guatemala and Belize.

Kulan Conservation Across the Steppe
Asiatic wild ass or kulan ( Equus hemionus ) once ranged across the Middle East and Central Asia. During the last two centuries, their range has been dramatically reduced to less than 3% of their former range. The Central Asian subspecies is classified as Endangered but for the first time in more than a century, kulan are again roaming the central steppes of Kazakhstan, thanks to a collaborative project of which WCS is a part. Further east, in Mongolia, our health team recently attached collars to several kulan to better understand their range and behaviour and the impacts of mining and other anthropogenic activities.

Molecular Technology in the Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking
The high value of shark fin used in traditional Chinese soup and demand for additional products (e.g. shark liver oil) are a major driver of shark fishing. Sharks suffer from unsustainable harvesting because of the ease of fraudulent labeling and lacks of feasible methods to monitor the species involved. Sustainable trade requires a traceability system that includes rapid species ID and we are piloting a novel, hand-held shark DNA test kit for use at export warehouses in Indonesia and Singapore, the world's leading exporters of shark fins. Affordable, compact and easy-to-use, these technologies are an invaluable tool to assist wildlife trade law enforcement.

White-nose Syndrome Marching West
Bat populations in western North America are facing the arrival of white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS is a fungal disease affecting hibernating bats that was first identified in 2006 in New York and has since killed millions of bats in eastern North America. Since 2016, we have been part of a team collecting data on pre-WNS bat hibernation physiology, behavior, and morphology that can improve our understanding of western bat WNS risk factors, with the overall objective of developing the science to help identify species that are susceptible to WNS and thereby species of conservation concern and priorities for possible mitigations.
Spillover of Livestock Disease:
The Dire Impact on Wildlife
Peste de Petit Ruminants (PPR) is a viral disease of sheep and goats, affecting the livelihood of rural communities and national and global economies. Mass mortality events in wild ungulates of the Middle East and eastern Asia are raising concerns about the serious conservation impact of this virus. The mass mortality of over two-thirds of the critically endangered Mongolian saiga in 2017 illustrates the threat of PPR to wildlife. This is the second known mass mortality event due to infectious disease in Saiga in less than two years, effectively reversing decades of conservation efforts.

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The Wildlife Conservation Society was among the first zoos in the world to have full time veterinary care for their animals, with a clinician and pathologist hired in 1903 and a zoo animal hospital opening at the Bronx Zoo in 1916. We were also one of the first conservation organizations with a dedicated team of wildlife veterinarians deployed around the world to address the health of free ranging wildlife and problem-solve at the wildlife / domestic animal / human health and livelihoods interface, all underpinned by a foundation of environmental stewardship.

To learn how to support the  One World - One Health  portfolio at WCS, please contact Dr. Chris Walzer at or Dr. Paul Calle at .

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Photo Credits- Julie Larsen Maher/WCS (Scarlet Macaw); Chris Walzer/WCS (Kulan); Adeline Seah/ WCS (Shark fins); WCS (Western bat species); Buuveibataar Bayarbaatar/ WCS (Mongolian saiga)