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Wildlife Rescue Contributes to Vital Research

Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation can be about much more than just the immediate first aid – it’s often an opportunity to collect samples and contribute to important research.

Back in 2019, our dedicated Operation Avian team members, Matthew Rendle, Stefan Harsch and Ashley Clayton, tested the lead levels in the blood of injured black kites passing through their hands for first aid treatment in India. All the birds tested showed significant levels of lead, which is known to affect aspects of vision, suggesting a possible link between the accidents they suffered and heavy metal poisoning, although more research is needed.

Next year, the Operation Avian team is hoping to look at the important topic of antibiotic stewardship. With the permission of the local authorities, the team would like to swab as many traumatic wounds in wild birds admitted for treatment as possible. The samples would then be submitted to a local veterinary lab to be tested for culture, bacteriology and sensitivity to treatment options. This would make it possible to identify how often antibiotics are actually needed, and when lower value antibiotics could be the optimal choice.

In the words of Matthew Rendle RVN:

“Antibiotic stewardship is one of the biggest One Health issues we currently face worldwide. Wildlife rescue centres often overuse critically important antibiotics, like enrofloxacin. These drugs are frequently used when wounds are actually undergoing normal healing processes, but the presence of bioburden is confused with signs of infection. Any contribution WVI can make to showing when other options might be more appropriate can only be good news for us all –humans included.”


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📷 Ashley Clayton – black kites recovering from surgery