Dr. Mohsin Ali Gazi
Rashid Yahya Naqash
Health monitoring in wild animals is an important component of the conservation of wild species. These wild animals like other domestic animals, birds and humans are susceptible to various infectious diseases that can cause morbidity and mortality resulting in significant impact on the dynamics and conservation status of these precious species. The health of wildlife is deeply interlinked with the health of other animals, the environment and even humans. Pathogens in wild animals may affect human health and can be direct sources of infection for people with pathogens that can cause disease in humans. According to recent studies there are hundreds of human diseases derived from pathogens in wild animals that became important to human health in the past so many years. The survival of humans, animals, and plants depends on the health of their ecosystems so by protecting wildlife health, we safeguard biodiversity and invest in a healthier, more sustainable future. Wild animal health care aims to identify and promote solutions for more effective monitoring and early detection of diseases through animal regular heath check control programs which is a key component of animal welfare.
Nowadays we find a need of introducing wildlife dentistry as it plays a crucial role in wildlife conservation and management. It is the art and science of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment diseases of conditions, and disorders of the oral cavity, the maxillofacial region, and its associated structures related to wild animals. Examination of the oral cavity should form basic part of every physical examination of all rescued wild animals requiring oral health check-up and correction of any disease conditions and disorders of the oral cavity. Prior to initiation or planning of any treatment for disorders of oral cavity, radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gum line as most dental disease occurs below the gum line and require radiograph for accurate visibility and correct diagnosis. Dental examination of the wild animals can help determine the age of animals, which is essential for population management and can provide valuable insights into the overall health of wildlife dental broader health issues, such as malnutrition or infection. Dentistry can also aid in distinguishing between different species based on dental features, helping in the accurate classification of animals. Further Injured or rescued wild animal may also require dental health check-up to enable their mastication mechanisms, dental caries or oral infections and overall dental health before release. Wild animal dentistry can be also contributing to our understanding of animal behavior, diet, and ecology, which can guide in conservation strategies, habitat management and research.
Apart from dentistry, digital X-rays (a non-invasive diagnostic tool) can also be used to monitor the health of populations, identifying diseases or conditions that may impact the overall well-being of a species. It can be used to diagnose injuries or illnesses in wildlife, helping in making informed decisions about treatment and rehabilitation. X-rays can reveal information about the age, growth, and reproductive status of individuals within a population, aiding in population management and conservation efforts.
Another aspect of upgrading health care of wild animals can be with the evaluation of Kidney health using kidney function tests KFT (blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and serum creatinine levels), shall be helpful in assessment of the overall health of wild animals. Changes in kidney function can be indicative of an animal’s hydration status, stress and body mechanics. Monitoring kidney function in wildlife can help assess the impacts of environmental pollutants or toxins in a population. In cases where kidney dysfunction is detected, (KFT) can guide in treatment plans, such as fluid therapy, dietary adjustments, or medication. Further estimation of Glucose levels in wild animals can also be a crucial part of health monitioring and can indicate underlying health issues such as diabetes, metabolic disorder, or stress. Low glucose levels may indicate malnutrition or inadequate food availability in the animal’s habitat etc. One more aspect of advances in diagnostics can be use of ECG to assess the overall cardiac health of wild animals. It will help researchers to understand the cardiac physiology and stress responses of animals. ECG helps evaluate the stress levels of wild animals in response to various environmental factors or human interactions, which can be crucial for conservation efforts. Precisely, upgradation of wild animal healthcare can be a valuable thing in wildlife management and conservation, helping to ensure the well- being and preservation of various species in their natural habitats and can have a positive impact on overall management of wild animals.
Dr. Mohsin Ali Gazi, Incharge Veterinary Officer, Department of Wildlife Protection Kashmir
Rashid Yahya Naqash, Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Department of Wildlife Protection Kashmir