Earlier this month leading members of the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVG) published a new article titled, “Evaluating the contribution of a wildlife health capacity building program on orangutan conservation.” Authors utilize the One Health perspective, which views wildlife, livestock, crop, and human health and welfare as part of an integrated system. Through this lens, they evaluate the effectiveness of OVAG as a wildlife health capacity building program through various methods.
The first OVAG workshop was convened in the summer of 2009 with the goal of being a capacity building program and networking initiative for the wildlife veterinary clinicians in orangutan range countries. Typically, these professionals receive limited practical training experience throughout their formal and post graduation. In their own words,
“OVAG brings together those working with orangutans to share expertise, knowledge, and collectively learn to increase effectiveness of orangutan welfare and conservation. This community includes veterinarians, academics, researchers, project managers, and government authorities from Indonesia, Malaysia, and around the globe.”Unwin et al., 2021
Authors used quizzes, feedback forms, and online surveys to test and retest current and former participants to evaluate knowledge retention. It is important to note that the purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate whether participants perceived the program to be effective and pertinent to the needs presented by the target audience (orangutan healthcare staff). Overall, authors were able to show that the annual OVAG workshop, in accordance with their One Health approach, has been able to produce an effective learning space for its participants. Further, they establish the need for further assessment of the orangutan conservation field and its effectiveness in impacting wild orangutan conservation. There is immense difficulty in judging how direct links from conservation initiatives to wild populations, but with new capacity building programs like OVAG, it is imperative that methods be developed.
The OVAG “model” is a multidisciplinary network that brings capacity development, research, policy, and advocacy together to improve orangutan health, welfare, and conservation.Unwin et al., 2021