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Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies

Department of Production Animal Studies

Research focus areas:

1.      Reproduction – Prof Henk Bertschinger
a.      Immunocontraception and sex-related behaviour in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and other African wildlife species
b.      Determination of faecal and other steroids in various wildlife species (RIA laboratory)
Current projects:
African buffalo
·         An investigation into the possible presence of foot-and-mouth disease virus in semen of the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
African elephant
·         Non-lethal control of African elephant populations by means of immunocontraception
·         Control of testosterone secretion, musth and aggressive behaviour in African elephant bulls using a GnRH vaccine
·         Trigger and regulatory mechanisms of musth in African elephants.  Part 1: Optimisation of animal observation, audio recording, sample collection and analysis
·         The assessment and comparison of stress between free-living and domesticated African elephants
·         Population genetics of the Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) and Burchell's zebra (Equus burchelli) in relation to the prevalence of sarcoid tumours
African wild dog
·         Use of tissue DNA to study the relationship of wild dog Lycaon pictus packs using domestic dog microsatellites
·         Contraception of male domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) with an injectable, long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist, Deslorelin
·         Collection and freezing of semen from the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)
2.      Epidemiology – Prof Bruce Gummow
a.      Epidemiological aspects at the interface between wildlife, domestic animals and the rural populations in southern Africa
b.      Collaboration between the Faculty of Veterinary Science and CIRAD;
Current projects
·         Development of a decision model for assessing the dynamics of foot and mouth Disease (FMD) and African Swine Fever (ASF) in the Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA)
·         Understanding spatial dynamics of foot-and-mouth disease in Kruger National Park interface of South Africa
3.      Environmental ecology, physiology and behaviour – Prof John Skinner
Current projects
·         Bone density, and calcium and phosphorus content in the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) skeleton
·         Heart mass:body mass, heart mass:neck height and certain aspects of blood vessel morphology in giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) and buffaloes (Syncerus caffer)
·         An extensive study on the physiology and anatomy of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) in association with Prof Graham Mitchell, University of Wyoming, USA