Mastodon Scientific Frontline: Conservation
Showing posts with label Conservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conservation. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Koalas exposed to double whammy health threat

Credit: Tara Gatehouse
An AIDS-like virus that is plaguing Australia’s koala population is leaving them more vulnerable to chlamydia and other threatening health conditions, University of Queensland research has found.

One of UQ’s leading COVID-19 vaccine researchers, Associate Professor Keith Chappell, has discovered that the chlamydia epidemic plaguing endangered koala populations in Queensland and NSW is linked to a common virus that likely suppresses koalas’ immune systems.

Dr Chappell and Dr Michaela Blyton, from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, made this discovery after studying more than 150 koalas admitted to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

Dr Chappell said this study could have far reaching impacts and lead to better protective measures like breeding programs and new anti-viral medications.

“We know Queensland and NSW koala populations are heavily impacted by chlamydia infections and a retrovirus, but until now a clear link between the two has not been conclusively established,” Professor Chappell said.

“Our research has found that the amount of retrovirus circulating within an animal’s blood was strongly associated with chlamydia and symptoms like cystitis and conjunctivitis, as well as overall poor health.

“It’s a double whammy for already-endangered koalas.”

Monday, May 9, 2022

Sale of donkey skins linked to trade in illegal wildlife products

A working donkey pulling a farmer's cart
Credit: Katja/Pixabay

Newly published research raises important concerns about whether the trade in donkey skins is being used as a cover for smuggling elephant tusks, pangolin scales and other illegal wildlife products.

Research published in Conservation Science and Practice has revealed novel links between the global trade in donkey skins and the wildlife trade. The study by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and supported by The Donkey Sanctuary suggests that these trades operate in parallel, creating new avenues and transportation pathways for wildlife trade.

The trade of donkey skins is largely driven by demand for E-Jiao, a traditional Chinese medicine, which uses gelatin from donkey skins. As increasing demand has outstripped the Chinese domestic supply of donkeys, E-Jiao producers have looked to international markets for skins.

Using network analysis of online markets, the research team examined seven large international b2b eCommerce platforms, which all hosted vendors selling donkey skins. Nearly one-fifth of the vendors selling donkey skins also offered some other form of wildlife product – in some cases even species protected by CITES, the international treaty on the trade of endangered species.

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