The OC Blog: Day One Report from the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop

Attendees at the 2013 OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop get down to work on day one.
Attendees at the 2013 OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop get down to work on day one.

By Raffaella Commitante

Today was the first day of the Orangutan Conservancy’s OC/OVAG 5th annual workshop!

It was a very long day – but fun to meet and work with old friends and a few new ones. After the welcome speeches, we had a wonderful ice breaker exercise planned by Steve Unwin – I have no idea where he finds this stuff but it was fun! Each of us received a picture of a larger drawing – and without showing the drawing to anyone else, we had to describe our portion of the drawing to others and their part to us until we could figure out our order. Sound confusing? It was! But eventually we got the hang of it and soon were lining ourselves up in the order we thought would present the entire drawing – which was a zoom series of shots beginning from outer space and zooming in on a rooster’s coxcomb! I was at the close-up end and we were in the correct order – as were the people at the far end in outer space. The middle, however, was really jumbled. But participants made a valiant attempt to give reasons as to why they were positioned where they were. It certainly made us relax with each other.

After that bit of fun it was down to serious business. The morning was filled with discussions about reintroductions and participants from reintroduction centers presented their veterinarian’s point of view of new releases.

Many discussions focused on questions about releases.  Are they really a viable option?  Is it conservation?  Can we really prevent disease outbreaks from occurring post release?  How long should released orangutans be observed?  This was discussed at great lengths as it really is on a per individual basis.  As very little data exists on releases done previously, it is important for these new release efforts to document and collect their data.  A recent Reintroduction workshop held in Bogor in April 2013, offered assistance to release sites in organizing their data.

For the first time, Indonesian vets took the lead in facilitating and chairing different sessions. Winny chaired the session on reintroduction. Anta chaired the session on a variety of issues affecting our group, such as, becoming stronger as a group by forming an internal OVAG committee. Also discussed was how we should handle our growing group with limited funding.

Also discussed was the finding of a permanent home for our future workshops. While it is fun holding the annual event in different places, it makes more sense to find a base so that we can better determine costs and services. My suggestion was Jogjakarta in collaboration with UGM (Universitas Gajah Mada). Saturday drh, Anta and I will fly to there to meet with the Dean of Kerjasama (Dean of Collaborations) to see if this is something that he would support.

All in all it was a great start to our workshop!

To learn more about the annual OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshops please click here.

The OC Blog is being written this month by Dr. Raffaella Commitante, OC Board Member and facilitator of the OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop, which is being held in Bogor, Indonesia.

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