William Karesh, D.V.M., heads the Field Veterinary Program (FVP)
of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which has over 300 field
projects in 50 countries around the world. Dr. Karesh was hired
to develop this program in 1989 to address health-related issues
among field biologists and conservationists. The program provides
services overseas for the Society’s field staff as well
as workers from government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The FVP also conducts research on the health status of free-ranging
wildlife populations, provides training for foreign veterinarians
and biologists, and frequently assists overseas organizations
and agencies with wildlife translocations, as well as confiscation
and rehabilitation issues. Major initiatives of the FVP include
the development of multi-national wildlife/livestock/human health
programs and policy consultation for developing country governments
and bilateral aid organizations.
In 1999, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Field Veterinary Program initiated
the first comprehensive preventive health program for free-ranging lowland gorillas
aimed at protecting populations in three range states (Gabon, Congo and CAR)
from the risk of exposure to emerging or introduced diseases. This program was
created in response to the growing interest in gorilla ecotourism, proliferation
of ecological / wildlife research, and expansion of human communities in and
around the forests of Central Africa. This program was up and running during
the recent Ebola outbreaks that have swept across northern Congo and Gabon, allowing
FVP vets and collaborating scientists to respond quickly to the crisis.
Dr. Karesh is also Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Veterinary Specialist Group.