OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop
Collectively, the veterinarians and healthcare staff at rehabilitation centers in Borneo and Sumatra care for the largest captive population of orangutans in the world. Yet they face nearly impossible odds, and often find themselves short of medicine, equipment, money, space, support staff and time.
But those same dedicated men and women do not lack for skill. Or commitment. And that is why the Orangutan Conservancy created the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop, an annual seminar that gathers together the veterinary teams that work at the frontlines of the orangutan conservation crisis, and gave them a rare opportunity to hone skills, discuss issues and ideas, and renew friendships that could some day mean the difference between life and death for endangered apes.
The focus of the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshops remain the practical sessions, presentations, roundtables, and break-out groups that make the workshop so valuable. There, veterinarians who often work alone under extreme duress get a chance to pose questions and tackle hypothetical scenarios that might otherwise get overlooked. They also establish friendships and alliances that strengthen the orangutan conservation community as a whole.
The Workshop History
The OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop series was inaugurated in 2009, and the first meeting was held in Central Kalimantan, Borneo.
The OC/OVAG 2010 Veterinary Workshop was staged in Medan, Sumatra, and the OC 2011 Veterinary Workshop was held in Jogjakarta.
The 2012 event was held in Kuala Lumpur.
2013 saw the largest group of orangutan veterinarians yet that shared their field experiences and expertise with each other. After the workshop these front-line heroes returned to their field sites across Indonesia and Malaysia to continue their work of orangutan health care.
2014 was our most ambitious workshop yet and in our new, premanent home in Yogyakarta Indonesia in partnership with Gadjah Mada University.
The 2016 Workshop was held in Malaysia. The full report is available here.
Orangutans are in severe crisis. More than 80 percent of their habitat in Borneo and Sumatra has been destroyed over the last 20 years, and OC’s research reveals that in 2017 there are likely no more than 45,000 orangutans remaining in the wild.
The primary threats to orangutans are illegal logging and habitat destruction, human encroachment, the conversion of rainforests to oil palm plantations, and the pet trade. As a result of such intense pressures, an extremely large number of orphaned orangutans exist in rehabilitation centers across Borneo and Sumatra. These orangutans arrive bearing a host of physical and emotional wounds, and require intense veterinary care to recover.
The orangutans that are judged fit to return to the wild are reintroduced through a long, complex process, but the overwhelming majority continue to reside in the rehabilitation centers.
And the dedicated vets and healthcare workers that care for these orangutans are the frontline heroes that we bring to our workshop each year.
The Workshops have recently been co-sponsored by the Chester Zoo/ NEZS, United Kingdom ABAXIS, Germany, the International Primate Society and the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. This ongoing support combined with individual donations made our supporters is the reason we are able to continue the OC/OVAG workshops.
At the OC 2009 Veterinary Workshop, the delegates took the bold step of forming the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG), which quickly became a forum for issues such as contraception, reintroduction, diseases, euthanasia, laboratory politics and other hot-button topics. In this way, the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshops have helped build a community of veterinary healthcare experts that stands strongest when it stands together.
With your help we will again bring together the veterinarians and healthcare workers for the 2017 event this summer.