It is clear that there is a need to establish long-term, sustainable wildlife disease monitoring programs globally, with a focus on understanding disease ecology issues and disease movement among the agriculture and wildlife sectors. To these ends, the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), EMPRES Wildlife Unit has used highly pathogenic avian influenza and wild birds to serve as a starting point for increasing in-country national and regional capacity through the training and education of biologists, veterinarians, ornithologists, and others.
Since 2005, the Wildlife Disease Programme that has coordinated, facilitated, or implemented training of more than 300 in-country nationals from over 80 countries in the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, on avian biology, migration ecology, population monitoring methods, low and highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, disease transmission concerns amongst farm and wild birds, proper bird capture and handling techniques, as well as proper disease sampling procedures for avian influenza and other diseases.
Trainings, which routinely take place over a 3-5 day period, consist of classroom lectures, field experience, and wild bird handling, and sampling. The objectives of these training programmes are:
- To instruct participants in the methods of waterbird capture and marking, including sample collection, preservation and transport;
- To undertake practical (hands-on) waterbird capture and marking sessions, including use of traps and nets, and undertake sample collection sessions;
- To ensure that concepts about wild bird monitoring and surveillance programs are transferred to allow each country participant to return home and develop plans that are most appropriate for their in-country and regional needs.
Trainings are always conducted with the support of local in-country biologists, local Ministries, NGO's, or Universities, as well as specialty organisations such as CIRAD, Wetlands International, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (UK), and others. In the future, the Wildlife Disease Unit at FAO plans to continue with trainings that bring together different professional groups (veterinary medicine, diagnostics, wildlife ecology, ornithology, etc.) because only through integrated collaborative activities, will we be able to prevent, control, and respond to emerging infectious diseases that affect the health of agriculture, wildlife and humans.
Capacity building seminars have taken place in the following coutries: