The IREC collaborates in the fight against wildlife poisoning in Kenya by participating in a training workshop on wildlife toxicology for veterinary and environmental professionals.
Research and technical staff of the Research Group in Wildlife Toxicology of the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC – CSIC, UCLM, JCCM) traveled to Kenya last October 2022 to participate in a 5-days training workshop on crucial aspects for the fight against the illegal poisoning of wildlife in the African country.
The workshop not only brought together veterinarians from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) and their conservation partners, including The Peregrine Fund, Smithsonian Institution, Kenya Bird of Prey Trust and BirdLife International, but also to staff from six laboratories in Kenya dedicated to the toxicological analysis of animals and food.
The training workshop brought together veterinarians and environmental personnel from various African entities, bringing together a total of 51 professionals.
The workshop was held in 3 Kenyan towns, Naivasha, Nairobi and Juja; and brought together a total of 51 professionals. The key objective of the workshop was to improve the analytical detection of procedures dedicated to the analysis of samples suspected of poisoning, and thus to expand the scientific capacity of natural environment authorities to better address veterinary interventions and national law enforcement to save the wildlife affected by this threat.
Two main challenges facing wildlife veterinarians and other stakeholders involved in wildlife poisoning were identified throughout the workshop: the cost of testing samples at government infrastructures and the recognition of a variety of Kenyan poisoning laboratories which have the equipment and capacity to test samples, but not the legal mandate to do it. Discussions also focused on the formation of a Technical Working Group, led by the KWS, to seek solutions to these problems in the future. Sessions also included best practice methods for collecting, storing, and transporting samples of suspected poisoned wildlife from the field to the laboratory. Another important objective that was achieved thanks to this workshop was to improve communication between these laboratories and the veterinarians.
Dr. Rafael Mateo, head of the XXX of the XXX, and Pablo Camarero, a laboratory technician of the group, in a practical training session on laboratory methods for the processing and analysis of biological samples for the detection of poisons in Kenia.
The key findings, now published as a Proceedings of the Wildlife Toxicology Workshop, include the interest of wildlife veterinarians to develop more skills in avian medicine and to have veterinarians who are experts in wild birds, the need to maintain a Technical Working Group led by the KWS to address essential aspects of improvement in the field of wildlife toxicology, to improve connection and understanding of the challenges faced by wildlife veterinarians and the need to improve the training of laboratory technicians in novel and simple methods to detect poisoning by certain chemicals, such as carbamates, which is the most common class of chemicals used to poison wildlife in Africa. The need to improve the capacities of laboratories for the maintenance of analytical equipment has also been highlighted.