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Training Opportunity for Ghanaian Wildlife Vets

West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) and Wildlife Vets International are partnering to offer a capacity building and learning opportunity in the UK for two veterinary officers from Ghana.

This trip will compliment the training we have already given the two vets, Dr Gyebi and Dr Asumah, during vet nurse Matthew Rendle's previous trips to Ghana. The vets are based at Accra and Kumasi Zoo and are responsible for the veterinary care of Endangered primates such as white-naped mangabeys and Critically Endangered Rolloway monkeys. The vets work for Wildlife Division, the government body of the Forestry Commission of Ghana, who also own these two zoos.

WAPCA is a non-governmental organisation, based in Ghana, missioned with safeguarding the future of primate populations and their habitat in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. A key component of their work is building up a healthy reserve population for potential conservation translocation into wild habitat. To this end, WAPCA manages two reserve sites within the two Ghanaian zoos: Accra Zoo (23 Endangered monkeys in 4 groups) and Kumasi Zoo (10 Endangered monkeys in two groups).

When previously in Ghana, Matthew has conducted several practical workshops for the zoo vets and animal care team, as well as providing one-to-one guideance to the vet team - both onsite and remotely. To compliment this in-situ training, coming to the UK will enable the vets to learn from British zoo vets how we look after the health and welfare of primates in a number of captive environments. We hope that they will spend time shadowing the husbandry and veterinary teams at Twycross Zoo, shadowing International Zoo Veterinary Group partner Steve Philp at Paradise Wildlife Park and Colchester Zoo, and WVI Trustee Peter Kettlewell at Woburn Safari Park.

"As an organization we strive to promote primatology, primate conservation and primate care within primate range countries, providing learning opportunities for Ghanaians. The health and wellbeing of the animals under our care is a priority for WAPCA and we are therefore delighted to be partnered with Wildlife Vets International and the Wildlife Division veterinary team for a number of years now to ensure this," Andrea Dempsey, Programme Manager for WAPCA, told us. "We believe these hands on, immersive opportunities create a comprehensive learning experience for the Ghanian participants but also their UK counterparts."

In addition, we hope the vets will be able to travel to Greece to visit the ARCHELON Sea Turtle Rescue Centre. Their set up is an example of what the Wildlife Division could build to deal with injured turtles found on the beaches, which also fall under the Forestry Commission's responsibility.

WVI's Olivia Walter said "It is thanks to two sisters, Jess and Maxine van Damme, doing a sponsored cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats that we are able to make the most of this opportunity. Providing Dr Asumah and Dr Gyebi with the opportunities to see the challenges and solutions others looking after similar species in captivity will be a huge help in providing their animals the best possible care. We look forward to supporting them implement what they have learnt once they are home."

With regards to the white naped mangabeys, these reserve populations in Accra and Kumasi Zoos, together with those in the European captive management programme, not only provide an insurance for their wild counterparts but play a crucial role in education and research of the species. A number of these captive groups in Ghana have individuals that have been illegally taken from the wild. Their genetic makeup is unique to any captive animal both in Ghana and in Europe, and by adding this diversity to the wild and captive global breeding programme reduces genetic bottlenecking and means the population can be sustained over 100 years.