OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop
The 2016 OC/OVAG Workshop is happening now in Sabah Malaysia. Watch our landing page for daily updates from the event.
View our OC/OVAG Video to see the workshop in action.
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 Orangutan Conservancy (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.
And the workshops are needed now more than ever before. We must continue to bring these wildlife veterinarians together and show them that they are not alone in their mission to save orangutans.
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 is happening this week and you can watch daily updates here.
Orangutans are in severe crisis. The largest of the great apes found in Asia, their natural range is limited to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and their rainforest homes are disappearing quickly. More than 80 percent of the orangutans’ habitat has been destroyed over the last 20 years, and OC’s research teams believe that in 2014 there are no more than 40,000 orangutans thought to exist in the wild. At the current rate of decline, orangutans may become extinct in the wild within 25 years.
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 – which number approximately 1,600 – 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.
The OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshops focus on all aspects of captive orangutan care, with a special emphasis on the detection and treatment of tuberculosis (TB). A joint program between OC and Chembio Diagnostics Systems Inc. provided large caches of PrimaTB STAT-PAK test kits to each of the facilities as part of a large-scale tuberculosis study, and each delegate was instructed in the proper use and interpretation of the results. The PrimaTB STAT-PAK testing kits are considered useful in the detection of tuberculosis in primates, a severe respiratory disease that can prove deadly.
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 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 support combined with the individual donations made by you 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 2016 event this summer.
Please look at this video that shows some of the highlights from the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop.