The WCS Veterinary Medicine for Conservation component promotes biodiversity conservation through domestic and wild animal health and management practices. Our objective is to address health issues in an integrated manner, ensuring ecosystem balance, and the health of people as well as domestic and wild animals. With this purpose in mind, we have diagnosed diseases, conducted parasite control campaigns, assessed and mitigated livestock losses due to predation, and trained community domestic animal health promoters.
Between 2005 and 2009, WCS and several communities living inside the Apolobamba protected area evaluated and mitigated wildlife predation on livestock such as alpacas, llamas, sheep and cattle. These interventions contributed to the recovery of non-lethal traditional techniques, such as the use of vests (ponchos) and bells on domestic animals, and chakus or community drives to expel potential predators. Through the use of these methods the number of annual predation events was reduced from 4,1 animals per family in 2005 to 1,4 animals in 2008. Additionally, disease monitoring in livestock, as well as timely prevention and attention conducted by 220 families, led to a reduction in livestock losses due to diseases, from 10,4 animals per family in 2004, to as low as 2,4 animals in 2007.
Furthermore, between 2005 and 2010, in partnership with communities in the TCO Tacana I and Pilon Lajas, WCS conducted several domestic animal disease monitoring campaigns (cattle, horses, pigs, dogs and poultry), identifying viral and bacterial pathogens and endoparasites (zoonotic and non-zoonotic). Training of community veterinarian promoters alongside the creation of a network of epidemiological surveillance in the TCO Tacana, contributed to the development of preventive and curative methods, consequently reducing the risk of disease transmission from domestic animals to people and wildlife. Furthermore, disease monitoring was carried out in wild animals hunted by indigenous communities: white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), tapir (Tapirus terrestris), agouti (Cuniculus paca), marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), Bolivian red howler (Alouatta sara), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), brown-nosed coati (Nasua nasua), capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), spectacled caiman (Caiman yacare) and yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis). This diagnosis identified parasites that had not previously been reported in Bolivian wildlife and showed the exposure of animals to diseases such as brucellosis and parvovirus.
Since 2004, as part of a joint agreement, WCS has aided BIOTA in their annual disease monitoring of Andean flamingos at Laguna Colorada in the Eduardo Avaroa National Andean Fauna Reserve. Although no cases of Newcastle or Avian Influenza were reported, some flamingos had antibodies to avian infectious anemia, low stance syndrome, swollen head syndrome and infectious bronchitis.