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The OIE celebrates the 1st World Wildlife Day

3 March 2014 90 years of expertise

On 3 March 2014: for the very first time, a day of the year was devoted to raising public awareness of the importance of protecting biodiversity and maintaining the constant fight against illegal trade in wild animals.

The OIE lent its support to the organisation of this first World Wildlife Day. This new event was created by a Resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2013, within the framework of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

World Wildlife Day provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people.
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Visit the event’s Facebook page.

Within the framework of its mandate to protect animal health and welfare, the OIE’s concerns include the protection of wildlife and biodiversity.

One of the OIE’s concerns is to help to protect wildlife and biodiversity.
©A.Thiermann

Ever-increasing interactions promote pathogen circulation

Human activities, environmental changes, new social habits and the acquisition of exotic species as companion animals are giving rise to new dynamics for infectious animal diseases. Endowed with a formidable capacity for adaptation, pathogens can circulate throughout the world, from one species to another, and gradually evolve. They pose a permanent threat to humans and domestic animals, as well as to wildlife, and interactions between these different groups are constantly intensifying. 

©A.Thiermann/ F.Diaz

To analyse the interactions between animal health, public health and the environment and to address the protection of biodiversity worldwide, the OIE organised a Global Conference on Wildlife in 2011, entitled Animal Health and Biodiversity – Preparing for the Future. This event was organised with the support of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in collaboration with FAO and the WHO.
For a reminder
Recommendations adopted (more than 100 Member Countries)

Animals, humans and diseases

70% of pathogens of animal origin come from wildlife.
©OIE

Animals in the wild are both targets of and a reservoir for pathogens capable of infecting domestic animals and humans: they can transmit diseases but may themselves fall victim. It is vital to improve our knowledge of the diseases present in wildlife and the ways in which they can be transmitted to and from domestic animals and humans, in order to devise appropriate control measures.
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Wildlife disease management missions

  • maintain biological diversity,
  • prevent the disappearance of endangered species,
  • improve our knowledge of the health status of all animal populations,
  • protect humans and domestic animal populations from the introduction of diseases.

Wildlife disease monitoring, prevention and control are crucial factors for safeguarding biodiversity and public and animal health worldwide.

Surveillance as a means of improving our knowledge of wildlife and providing better protection

The OIE has been developing wildlife and biodiversity management strategies since the 1980s.
©A. Thiermann

Surveillance of wildlife diseases is just as much a priority as the surveillance and control of diseases affecting domestic animals. Moreover, wild animals frequently serve as sentinels for diseases of domestic animals, and can play an important role in their control.

The term ‘wildlife’ covers a very wide range of animal species, for the most part living in the wild. Monitoring these populations is therefore challenging in many respects. The OIE has been actively involved in the surveillance and protection of wildlife and biodiversity since the 1980s.

Better knowledge of wildlife diseases worldwide

A permanent Working Group, composed of world renowned experts, has been working on wildlife diseases since 1994. The Group informs and advises the OIE on all health problems relating to wild animals, whether in the wild or in captivity, and especially on diseases that can have a significant impact on these populations, domestic animals and public health. The Group has prepared recommendations and oversees numerous scientific publications on the subject. 
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This Group is also working on the inclusion of important wildlife species in standards relating to the detection, prevention and control of diseases covered by the Terrestrial Code.

Improved surveillance of wildlife diseases at a local level

The national Veterinary Services have a crucial role to play in managing the problems associated with wildlife. Nevertheless, the application of their technical competencies presupposes there is the political will and a suitable allocation of resources to implement the relevant surveillance programmes and scientific research. The OIE provides support for Member Countries needing help with strengthening their Veterinary Services, including with regard to problems related wildlife and biodiversity.

Improved control and communication regarding the health status of wildlife at a national, regional and global level

Since 2008, national Focal Points for Wildlife have been nominated and trained for each of the 178 OIE Member Countries. Their responsibilities include recording cases of disease in wildlife occurring in their country.

The work of all these Focal Points is aimed at obtaining a better knowledge of the health status of wildlife throughout the world. It falls within the OIE’s historic missions: ensuring transparency in the global animal disease situation, including wildlife.

The OIE World Animal Health Information System incorporates data relating to wildlife

©F. Diaz

On becoming Members of the OIE, countries undertake to declare their animal health situation.

In particular, there is a list of 116 terrestrial or aquatic animal diseases affecting domestic or wild animals (including diseases transmissible to humans), which are notifiable to the OIE. WAHIS, the OIE’s World Animal Health Information System, compiles these data and makes them available to the public, via its web interface.

However, some diseases are specific to wildlife and are not included in the list referred to above. To provide better protection for wildlife, the OIE’s group of international experts has selected some of them to be monitored, both because of their importance for wild animals and because of their potential impact on human and animal health. OIE Member Countries thus declare, on a voluntary basis, their situation with respect to these diseases, using the WAHIS-Wild application, which became operational in January 2014.

Animal, humans and diseases: the example of wild boar

Wild boar can serve as a reservoir for a number of diseases, including foot and mouth disease, pseudorabies, classical swine fever, African swine fever and brucellosis. These diseases can have a critical impact on the domestic swine sector and result in heavy production losses due to high mortality and slaughter for disease control purposes. Also, outbreaks usually lead to the establishing of trade bans between partners.

Agreements and information exchange between the national Veterinary Services and the managers of protected areas, as well as hunting and fishing associations, have proved very effective for early detection of diseases in wildlife. 

Video Large Game Diseases

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