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Conservation Biology [clear filter]
Tuesday, May 24

08:00 ACST

Triage, treat and then what? Bushfire, wildlife and SAVEM.
Bushfires are increasing in Australia and worsening globally within temporal and geographic parameters: the corollary of climate change and increasing severe weather events. Bushfire is news when people, property, infrastructure and animals find themselves in its path. Superimpose on this a shrinking “off” season, the demands of year-round bushfire preparedness, and the migration of wildlife into idyllic human populated habitat. Combine that with 43 degrees and strong northerly winds: the quintessential Australian summer. South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM Inc) was formed in 2009 after the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires devastated that State in just such a scenario. Since then we have responded to bushfires every year, the largest being the Sampson Flat fire in January 2015, and the Pinery fire of November the same year. SAVEM works with all species of animals, and wildlife pose particular challenges. Veterinarians are in a privileged and unique professional position to join the ranks of Emergency responders – bringing clinical, problem solving and counseling skills. But a fireground is a very long way from “business as usual”, and without Emergency Management training a fireground can be a fatal place even after the fire is contained or controlled. This presentation by the SAVEM Coordinator will describe the principles and processes of effective practical Emergency Management as it pertains to operational case studies of recent South Australian fires. It will highlight confronting issues and difficult questions regarding management of wildlife involved in those fires; some lessons learned and why veterinary science has an important place at the table in effectively extending knowledge of natural hazard impacts and consequences

avatar for Dr Rachel Westcott

Dr Rachel Westcott

Coordinator, SAVEM Inc.
Dr Rachel Westcott is a veterinarian in her own private practice in Adelaide’s south. She graduated from Murdoch University in 1999 with first class honours, and is now a PhD candidate with Western Sydney University and the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC. In 2009, Rachel founded... Read More →

Tuesday May 24, 2016 08:00 - 09:00 ACST
Room L2 Adelaide Convention Centre

09:00 ACST

Veterinarians in aquaculture
VThe Aquaculture industry in Australia is a growing field, and the demand for seafood domestically and internationally is projected to rise in tonnage. The Australian aquaculture industry currently includes the production of oysters, mussels, prawns, barramundi, kingfish, silver perch (and other native fish), trout, salmon and Southern Bluefin tuna as commercial species. The aquaculture systems used to grow these species include recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS), flow-through, semi-flow through, sea-cage systems and ponds. These diverse systems require tailored health and biosecurity management strategies to suit the needs of each individual business/farm. To support growing levels of production, health management of stock is necessary to optimise performance and survival, which feeds into profitability of businesses. Health management is seen to be more holistic and encompasses not only disease control and prevention but also welfare management; and research and development. Veterinarians hold an essential future in this field, but support is needed for post-graduate training and continuing education. Attaining the right people in the field will support a culture of continuous improvement to strive for best-practice health management across the industry. Most importantly, an understanding the roles of other professionals in the field is necessary for collaboration and successful implementation of health and welfare systems


Dr Christine Huynh

After graduating from University of Sydney, Christine entered the Aquaculture field. Her passion for Aquatic Animal Health and Production medicine has been nurtured by being involved with Aquaculture. Christine spent 3.5 years working in private practice, consulting for aquaculture... Read More →

Tuesday May 24, 2016 09:00 - 10:00 ACST
Room L2 Adelaide Convention Centre

16:00 ACST

Calcium oxalate nephrosis in koalas
Calcium oxalate nephrosis is a common presentation of lethargic koalas in Adelaide. An inexpensive, patient-size and reliable method of determining the severity of the disease was sought to guide the decision to euthanase. Blood urea was measured, using dry-chemistry whole blood testing, Azostix® was used. This was correlated to elevated blood urea determined by chemical analysis using Roche. Ultrasound was used to determine the presence of crystals were present in the medulla of the kidney and demonstrated the presence of area of cortical necrosis. Urea levels higher than 25mg/dl correlated with presence of crystals in the kidney and evidence of renal damage and high levels confirm presence of this condition


Anne Fowler

Adelaide Bird & Exotics Vet Centre
Anne Fowler graduated from Sydney University after completing an Honours year investigating vitamin D in marsupials. Throughout her career in both mixed and small animal practice in both NSW and Victoria, she has always been interested in birds and exotic pets. Her previous roles... Read More →

Tuesday May 24, 2016 16:00 - 16:30 ACST
Room L2 Adelaide Convention Centre

16:30 ACST

Cross-fostering in the critically endangered brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata)
Cross-fostering in macropods was first described 50 years ago and is now being used as a conservation tool for the critically endangered brush-tailed rock-wallaby. Advantage is taken of the BTRW’s diapause joey, resulting from a mating within 24 hours of birth and then activation of a 28 day pregnancy, when suckling ceases. Pouch young are removed at 14 – 28 days of age from the conscious donor while the surrogate yellow-footed rock-wallaby is being anaesthetised and her similar aged pouch young is being euthanased. The same teat must be used for the cross-foster and is guided into the donor pouch young mouth using fine forceps. The BTRW young stays in the pouch for about the same time as the surrogate’s natural young. There appear to be no adverse behavioural traits in the cross-fostered young and they have successfully bred with their own species. Two out of three cross fosters result in young at foot but not all failures can be attributed to the procedure itself. This procedure has doubled the population growth rate of the species and has allowed a captive population to become established


Dr David Schultz

David Schultz graduated from Sydney University at the end of 1966 and was the first full time veterinarian at the Adelaide Zoo. It was a conservation ethic that drew him to the zoo initially in 1984 and he has been associated with the organisation and all its foibles ever since

Tuesday May 24, 2016 16:30 - 17:00 ACST
City Room 3 Adelaide Convention Centre

17:00 ACST

Reintroduction of the western quoll (idnya) to South Australia
Rabbits remain one of Australia’s most significant pest animals, even at extremely low abundance. Returning a native rabbit predator to fox baited reserves was proposed to assist managing this unsustainable over-grazing by pest rabbits. In South Australia, the largest mammalian carnivore legally possible in the Flinders Ranges was the western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii). This native predator was lost from the region in the 1880s. A bold conservation program is returning the western quoll to the unfenced Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park (SA). After 6 years of planning 42 quolls, almost all from south-west Western Australia, were released in 2014 and another 37 this year. This project has been a very successful collaborative effort between state governments and a non-government Foundation. FAME (Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species Inc) is sourcing the significant funding required, with the quolls, almost entirely sourced by WA Department of Parks and Wildlife, released onto a reserve that the SA Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has been fox baiting for over 20 years. This reserve is now co-managed with its traditional Adnyamathanha owners, for which the western quoll (idnya) is very important. Into this partnership has been added the expertise of Zoos SA, undertaking autopsies of dead quolls to assist identification of the primary cause of mortality (feral cats), rearing orphaned babies and treating injuries. In this presentation I will outline the reintroduction process, from sourcing historical accounts to justify the proposal to having quolls born on the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park for the first time in about 130 years. My Zoos SA colleague Ian Smith will in his talk then highlight the crucial role wildlife vets have played in the project, especially in the critical phase of establishing the new population. During this extremely vulnerable period when saving as many animals as possible to breed can make an exponential difference, the veterinary contribution of Zoos SA has been invaluable. This talk seeks to both highlight an amazing conservation project as well as the value, both ways, in collaborations between ecologists and wildlife vets


Dr David Peacock

David has worked for the State Government for over 20 years. Formerly a national park ranger, his life changed direction when he experienced first-hand the impact and benefits of the new rabbit biocontrol agent rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) on the Flinders Ranges National... Read More →

Tuesday May 24, 2016 17:00 - 17:30 ACST
City Room 3 Adelaide Convention Centre

17:30 ACST

Western Quolls: native animal reintroductions, a veterinary DIY guide
Australia’s has one of the worst mammal extinction rates in the world with around 30% of our non-bat, mammal species classified as threatened. Many programs have, therefore sprung up to address such losses, both locally and more widespread, to re-establish populations or even just to evaluate the status quo of species abundance in an area. The vast majority of these projects are concerned with managing populations or assemblages of populations (landscapes), as opposed to an individual animal focus, and therefore the role of ecologist/biologist holds a substantial sway. Unfortunately, in my experience, many ecologist are initially resistant to veterinary involvement for reasons that can only be speculated upon: professional pride, perceived costs, past experiences or misunderstandings with individual vets, or the isolation of the project site. There are many avenues in a reintroduction program where veterinary input can enhance the project: the disease risk assessment and pre-release testing or surveillance, the ethics application and the species recovery plan preparations, and the clinical support for diseased or injured animals with necropsy investigation of any mortalities. Using our experiences with the Western Quoll reintroduction program in the Flinders Ranges (SA) I hope to demonstrate how from a veterinary perspective we can continue to build this relationship with ecologists for the benefit of the current and future, hopefully collaborative, projects. I will also elaborate on the benefits for the individual vet professionally and generally as a team building exercise for their practice, and lastly what we, at Zoos SA, offer in the way of support and mentoring to local clinics that are willing to become involved is such projects


Dr Ian Smith

Ian Smith is the senior veterinarian at Zoos SA based at Adelaide Zoo for the last five years, and at Monarto Zoo for the seven year before that. He has also worked at Werribee Zoo and at the zoos of the London Zoological Society. He is the proprietor of “ZooVet” which provides... Read More →

Tuesday May 24, 2016 17:30 - 18:00 ACST
Room L2 Adelaide Convention Centre
Wednesday, May 25

10:30 ACST

Feral cats: the greatest threat to Australia’s native mammals
Feral cats kill millions of native animals every night. Finding an effective strategy to neutralise the impact of cats is likely to be the single most important step in halting the decline of Australia’s threatened mammals. In the search for an effective feral cat control strategy, Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) has been undertaking Australia’s largest feral cat research program, delivering ground-breaking science which has led to major new discoveries about cats including new insights into their deadly interaction with wildfire and feral herbivores. Focused initially on AWC’s properties in the Kimberley, AWC’s research program involves the most detailed study ever undertaken of the density, impacts, ranging and hunting behaviour of feral cats. However, until an effective, landscape scale control strategy is developed – which may take decades – the only effective way to protect and restore populations of Australia’s most vulnerable mammals is to establish a national network of large feral predator-free areas. AWC is leading the way with plans for a 65,000 hectare feral predator-free area in central Australia – the planet’s largest (by area) removal of feral cats.

avatar for John Kanowski

John Kanowski

National Science and Conservation Manager, Australian Wildlife Conservancy
Dr John Kanowski is a conservation and restoration ecologist with extensive experience in Australian ecosystems. John's PhD was in the ecology of rainforest possums and tree-kangaroos; subsequently, John worked as part of a research team investigating approaches to restoring biodiversity... Read More →

Wednesday May 25, 2016 10:30 - 11:30 ACST
City Room 4 Adelaide Convention Centre

11:30 ACST

Kangaroos and cataracts. Nutrition, health and welfare of hand reared orphan kangaroos.
This presentation will examine the role of nutrition in the development of cataracts in orphan hand reared kangaroos as well as general health and welfare. I will be presenting my latest research findings which have built upon my original research published in Nature. Although it has been generally accepted, as a result of my original research, that kangaroo joeys are lactose intolerant and develop diarrhoea when fed cow’s milk, my research findings that kangaroos are also unable to metabolise galactose and can therefore develop cataracts has not gained universal acceptance. This has been one of the reasons for the continuing debate about the most appropriate milk substitute for orphan kangaroos. Cataracts continue to be seen sporadically in hand reared kangaroos, anecdotally, especially in those fed milk substitutes high in galactose. This presentation, based on my latest research will clarify the situation. The presentation will also examine the welfare and ethical aspects of hand rearing orphan kangaroos


Tanya Stephens

Haberfield Veterinary Hospital
Tanya Stephens is a small animal practitioner who established her own practice and very much enjoys practice. She is also a wildlife researcher with original research on galactosaemia in kangaroos. Tanya’s interests lie in animal welfare, research, evidence based practice, professional... Read More →

Wednesday May 25, 2016 11:30 - 12:30 ACST
City Room 4 Adelaide Convention Centre

14:30 ACST

Food security, emerging infectious disease and our increasingly small planet
Delivering sufficient, safe, ethical and nutritious food in a sustainable manner to meet the requirements of future generations is one of the world’s greatest challenges. Over the past 10,000 years, the growing human and companion animal population has been sustained through the domestication of plant and animal species for use as food sources and the industrialisation of agricultural systems, without taking natural capital into account. A review of this strategy suggests that our modern systems are not necessarily optimal and, in some instances, are undermining the long-term food security and health of people and the planet. Intensification of livestock production systems has steadily increased since the mid-1880s and now dominates our global livestock food systems. It has contributed to the emergence, spread and maintenance of new disease agents through shifting ecological immunology, and increased interaction and movement of both people and their livestock. Simultaneously the diets of people and animals have changed leading to the double burden of under and over nutrition in people and companion animals.

avatar for Robyn Alders

Robyn Alders

Principal Research Fellow, University of Sydney
Robyn Alders is an Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow with the Faculty of Veterinary Science within the University of Sydney. For over 20 years, she has worked closely with smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia as a veterinarian, researcher and colleague... Read More →

Wednesday May 25, 2016 14:30 - 15:30 ACST
City Room 4 Adelaide Convention Centre