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March 18, 2015 – Creeping up on African buffalo to monitor their health is no easy task; they are big, formidably armed, and don’t take kindly to strangers; but it can be a piece of cake compared to finding funding for wildlife health research.   

“Morris Animal Foundation is our ‘go to’ funding agency for applied research grants for wildlife specific diseases,” states Dr. Anna Jolles, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University.  “I think Morris Animal Foundation has identified a very important niche.”

South Africa is a long way from Oregon, but field work is an essential part of wildlife research.  Oregon State University and Morris Animal Foundation first teamed up in 2010, collaborating on 5 studies centered on two important and iconic African animals: African lions and African buffalo.  The team’s research is focused on how some common diseases shared with domestic animals are impacting the health of lions and buffalo. 

For example, did you know that both African lions and African buffalo can be infected by the bacteria that causes tuberculosis in cows?  That African buffalo can develop dreaded foot-and-mouth disease?  That African lions can be infected by feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)?  The Oregon researchers discovered that infections caused by these organisms pose a health risk to African lions and African buffalo, primarily by making them vulnerable to other diseases.  For African lions, this is especially concerning since the population is already in a precarious position. 

Morris Animal Foundation has a strong commitment to funding wildlife research, stretching back to 1967, when the Foundation funded its first wildlife exclusive grant.  Help us continue to fund the invaluable research that has such impacts on these magnificent animals.

By: Kelly Diehl, DVM MS, Dipl. ACVIM (SA Internal Medicine)