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Pilanesberg Resolution

In 2001, at an international scientific meeting held in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa, the Wildlife Disease Association and the Society for Tropical Veterinary Medicine jointly prepared and released a resolution calling for the recognition of animal health sciences as critical to the design and management of sustainable programs for both livestock and wildlife. This resolution, which is targeted at multilateral and bilateral donors as well as governmental authorities, encourages agencies to consider potential wildlife health impacts when development projects (particularly livestock development) are being planned or implemented. These two professional societies, representing over 1,000 scientists and meeting together to address the issue of diseases transmitted between domestic and wild animals, wished to emphasize the interrelatedness of development actions and the environment, the potential for adverse consequences in projects that neglect to consider wildlife disease issues, and the importance of considering the true and overall costs and benefits to natural as well as human-made production systems when evaluating or defining sustainable projects. The resulting “Pilanesberg Resolution” summarizes what we still need to be doing to proactively foster successful conservation and development outcomes at the wildlife / livestock / human health interface:

Resolution by the Wildlife Disease Association and the Society for Tropical Veterinary Medicine calling for international donor community recognition of animal health sciences as critical for the design and management of sustainable wildlife and/or livestock-based programs.

Whereas, contact and resource competition between wildlife and livestock continuously expand as more and more land comes under some form of human use;

whereas, wild and domestic animals have many diseases in common and both groups can and do play different roles in disease epidemiology, and recognizing that these interrelationships can have significant implications for disease prevention or control schemes;

whereas, livestock-based and wildlife-based activities are undertaken separately as well as jointly as primary modes of sustenance, economic betterment and support of rural livelihoods, with the sustainability thereof inextricably linked to ecologically appropriate land-use choices;

whereas, the sustainable management of livestock as well as the conservation of wildlife require ground-level stewardship, including disease surveillance, by those communities closest to and most dependent on these resources;

whereas, numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations worldwide provide financial resources, incentives, leadership, and advice targeted at boosting productivity and sustainability of the livestock and/or natural resource management sectors without always recognizing concomitant disease implications, which can be significant and complex;

whereas, limited funding streams for wildlife and/or livestock initiatives require prudent use;

whereas, donor organizations seldom possess sufficient internal expertise regarding the myriad disease issues implicit in ensuring the success of wildlife and/or livestock-based programs; and

whereas, the Wildlife Disease Association and the Society for Tropical Veterinary Medicine, along with other local, national, and international organizations, represent professionals who possess unique skills, knowledge, and experience with wild and domestic animal diseases and their underlying causes, ecological relationships, and economic implications.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that, the Wildlife Disease Association and the Society for Tropical Veterinary Medicine urge those organizations contemplating the funding and implementation of programs involving wildlife or livestock resources to:

* encourage projects that foster integrative approaches to livestock production, food security, human health, economic growth, democracy and governance, biodiversity conservation, and natural resource management in order to build upon synergies among these sectors while precluding conflicting policies and/or negative impacts on either livestock or wildlife health;

* formalize steps in their project design, environmental impact assessment, and implementation processes which address wildlife, livestock, and rangeland health issues and their implications for sustainability and thus success, recognizing that these projects may alter fundamental relationships between animal hosts and potential pathogens and parasites;

* when contemplating projects involving domestic and/or wild animals, establish relationships with appropriate wildlife and domestic animal health-oriented organizations and recognized local, national, regional, and international experts, thereby identifying an appropriate pool of professionals who can assist in ensuring the inclusion of timely, science-based advice in planning, implementation, and monitoring processes; and

* put a premium on local human capacity-building to address the long-term technical needs of development activities that require expertise in domestic animal health and wildlife health by building adequate support into project design and implementation so as to engage local expertise and to foster capacity-building at professional as well as community levels as a first-tier priority within and beyond the life-spans of such programs.

For more details (PDF of complete paper):
Karesh, W. B., Osofsky, S. A., Rocke, T. E., and P. L. Barrows. 2002. “Joining Forces to Improve Our World,” Conservation Biology, vol. 16: 1432-1434.

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