A Ghanaian wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Meyir Y. Ziekah, won the first prize at the Photo Contest organized as part of the 71st International Annual Wildlife Disease Association congress held in Athens, Georgia, USA, from 29th July to 5th August, 2023.
The congress, attended by over 620 wildlife veterinary professionals, researchers and students from across the globe, delivered a cutting edge, impactful science programme on the topic of ‘People, Passion, & Purpose: The Pathway to Wildlife Health’.
Dr Ziekah and Dr. Samuel Asumah represented Ghana and were the only participants from Africa at the conference in the USA.
During the congress, the two officials from the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission in Ghana spoke to other international wildlife experts on ‘Zoonotic Diseases in Harvested Wild Animals for Meat: A Case in the Bushmeat Market in Kumasi City Centre, Ghana’ (Dr Ziekah) and ‘Mortality Investigation and Disease Surveillance in Four Species of Sea Turtle in Ghana: Enhancing Conservation and Public Health Strategies’ (Dr Asumah).
Both called for effective collaboration among local and international stakeholders in the animal health sector, including veterinary services, wildlife conservation, academia, research institutions and funding agencies to work together to ensure efficient wildlife disease diagnoses, zoonoses management and research and promote one (ecosystem) health amid increased emerging infectious diseases of animal origin globally.
Dr. Ziekah received his prize, a pair of Olympus Binoculars, during the conference banquet.
He will put the binoculars immediately to good use to assist him and his team with wildlife population count and monitoring in Ghana.
Drs Ziekah and Asumah spent a further week in the USA at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, St. Louis Zoo (the second biggest zoo in the USA) and Louisville Zoo, acquiring new techniques in modern day animal disease investigation and treatment.
These skills will be central to the collaboration they wish to establish with the Kumasi Veterinary Laboratory on poached and poisoned wild animals in Ghana.
The two experts further developed a strategic partnership that will ensure Ghanaian wildlife experts on an annual basis shadow the works of Louisville Zoo experts in the USA.
Both express their profound gratitude to the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) working 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, for sponsoring the two wildlife veterinarians to attend the conference and receive additional training in the United States of America.