Oral Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Challenges in wildlife health management: a case study of avian malaria in kiwi (Apteryx spp) (#17)

Catherine K McInnes 1
  1. Department of Conservation, Wellington, NORTH ISLAND, New Zealand

This study highlights and discusses some of the issues around managing wildlife health risks when using ex-situ breeding as a conservation management tool. In 2011, an outbreak of avian malaria (Plasmodium (Huffia) elongatum) occurred in a captive management facility which releases kiwi over a wide range of the North Island of New Zealand. At the time, wildlife health experts made a series of recommendations to determine the significance of the event and manage potential risks it presented for wild populations. This case study is a four year follow-up on the event to review the level to which the recommendations were implemented. Of the five key recommendations, there had been good implementation where wildlife health experts were directly involved (recommendations 1-4). However, implementation was poor when the kiwi were released and wildlife health experts were no longer directly involved (recommendation 5).There could be a number of reasons for this difference in compliance including communication issues, cost, conflicting advice, lack of interest and differing perceptions of risk. All of these were evident both at the time of the recommendations and also in the follow up discussions. The implications of these findings will be discussed in more detail. This case study highlights the disease risks associated with use of captive management for species recovery, and especially the greater risk when there is congregation of animals from distinct geographic areas, and there dispersal of the offspring. It also emphasises the need for better communication of health risks and associated planning, improved understanding of wildlife health by conservation managers and scientists, and greater involvement of wildlife health experts in the decision making and follow up for disease outbreaks.