New grant: Expanding Malagasy veterinarians perception of their role in biodiversity conservation.

I am thrilled to report that I applied for and obtained a grant from the Saint Louis Zoo through the Wildcare Institute for a project entitled : “Building Local Capacity in Conservation Medicine – Meet the Multidimensional Challenges of Conserving Madagascar’s Endangered Species”. This proposal requested funding to organize a conservation medicine workshop for University of Antananarivo veterinary students that will increase students’ awareness of a veterinarian’s role in wildlife conservation and gain practical experience while also contributing to larger conservation objectives.
In 2009, the DESMV’s Zoo and Conservation Medicine Club, organized the first of a series of trainings on Conservation Medicine with the participation of local and international experts. Students were introduced to the concepts of conservation medicine, one health and had the opportunity to learn and practice field methods in Conservation Medicine. These workshops have proven invaluable for students to develop their knowledge and skills in conservation medicine but also gain important networking opportunities that benefit students and professionals alike.

With this grant, we propose to organize a similar training in collaboration with the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Sciences (DESMV) of the University of Antananarivo and the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG). A group of veterinary students from the University of Antananarivo will be selected to participate in the workshop at the Ivoloina Conservation Training Centre, Toamasina, Madagascar. This year’s lecturers include Drs Randy Junge from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Tsanta from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Haja from Ambatovy, Jonah from GERP, Cathy Williams from the Duke Lemur Center and other international experts in wildlife health and conservation medicine.

The fundamental objectives of the workshop are to:

– Introduce the students to the basic concepts of conservation medicine,

– Provide them with an overview of Madagascar’s faunal biodiversity,

– Provide relevant examples of conservation threats such as the vulnerability of small populations to stochastic events.

– Introduce students to techniques commonly used in the field

– and introduce Malagasy veterinary students to their potential role as veterinarians in conservation medicine.

I am very excited about this project and I would like to thank all the friends and colleagues who have contributed (and still are contributing) to this by developing the idea, providing feedback and/or encouragements.

Check out below a gallery of photos from previous training workshops.

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