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Ghanaian wildlife veterinarian wins big at International Annual Wildlife Congress in US

A wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Meyir Y. Ziekah, has achieved the top honor in the Photo Contest held as part of the 71st International Annual Wildlife Disease Association congress.

This prestigious event took place in Athens, Georgia, USA, from July 29th to August 5th, 2023.

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The congress, which drew over 620 wildlife veterinary professionals, researchers, and students from around the world, featured a cutting-edge scientific program themed “People, Passion, & Purpose: The Pathway to Wildlife Health.”

Representing Ghana at the conference were Dr. Ziekah and Dr. Samuel Asumah, who were the sole African participants in this event hosted in the USA.

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Dr. Ziekah, the Manager of the renowned Kumasi Zoological Gardens within the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission Ghana, known as Kumasi Zoo in the Ashanti Region, secured the winning entry in the photo contest.

During the congress, these two officials from Ghana’s Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission addressed an international audience of wildlife experts.

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Dr. Ziekah discussed “Zoonotic Diseases in Harvested Wild Animals for Meat: A Case in the Bushmeat Market in Kumasi City Centre, Ghana,” while Dr. Asumah presented on “Mortality Investigation and Disease Surveillance in Four Species of Sea Turtles in Ghana: Enhancing Conservation and Public Health Strategies.”

Both emphasized the need for effective collaboration among local and international stakeholders in the animal health sector, including veterinary services, wildlife conservation, academia, research institutions, and funding agencies.

Their goal was to promote efficient wildlife disease diagnoses, manage zoonotic diseases, conduct research, and advance the concept of one health ecosystem, particularly in light of the growing threat of emerging infectious diseases of animal origin worldwide.

Dr. Ziekah was awarded a pair of Olympus Binoculars during the conference banquet, which he intends to use for wildlife population counting and monitoring in Ghana.

Following the conference, Drs. Ziekah and Asumah spent an additional week in the USA, visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, St. Louis Zoo (the second-largest zoo in the USA), and Louisville Zoo. During this time, they acquired modern techniques for animal disease investigation and treatment. These skills will be pivotal in their collaboration with the Kumasi Veterinary Laboratory for the assessment of poached and poisoned wild animals in Ghana.

Moreover, the two experts established a strategic partnership to ensure that Ghanaian wildlife experts can shadow the work of their counterparts at the Louisville Zoo in the USA on an annual basis.

Dr. Ziekah and Dr. Asumah extend their heartfelt gratitude to the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), which sponsored their attendance at the conference and provided additional training in the United States of America through the Animal Health Systems Strengthening (AHSS) project at the Office of the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) at the British Embassy in Ghana.

Drs. Asumah and Ziekah at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center

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