Field immobilization for treatment of an unknown illness in a wild chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Gombe National Park, Tanzania: Findings, challenges, and lessons learned

Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Dominic Travis, Richard Ssuna, Emma Lantz, Michael Wilson, Kathryn Gamble, Karen Terio, Fabian Leendertz, Bernhard Ehlers, Brandon Keele, Beatrice Hahn, Thomas Gillespie, Joel Pond, Jane Raphael, Anthony Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Infectious diseases are widely presumed to be one of the greatest threats to ape conservation in the wild. Human diseases are of particular concern, and the costs and benefits of human presence in protected areas with apes are regularly debated. While numerous syndromes with fatal outcomes have recently been described, precise identification of pathogens remains difficult. These diagnostic difficulties are compounded by the fact that direct veterinary intervention on wild apes is quite rare. Here we present the unique case of a wild chimpanzee at Gombe National Park that was observed with a severe illness and was subsequently examined and treated in the field. Multiple specimens were collected and tested with the aim of identifying the pathogen responsible for the illness. Our findings represent the first extensive screening of a living wild chimpanzee, yet despite our efforts, the cause and source of illness remain unknown. Nevertheless, our findings represent valuable baseline data for the ape conservation community and for comparison with other recent findings. In addition, we present the case here to demonstrate the planning required and multiple types of expertise necessary to maximize the amount of data obtained from such a rare intervention, and to provide lessons learned for future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-99
Number of pages11
JournalPrimates
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Apes
  • Diagnostics
  • Disease
  • Health
  • Intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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