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Witnessing History

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    • 18 posts
    December 27, 2016 10:06 PM EST

    The Veterinary Care of Wildlife Ecolife Expedition that I participated in this summer was 14 days of absolute amazement. I could write for weeks on end and not come close to capturing everything learned and witnessed. However, the historical highlight was seeing the first ever oocyte retrieval from a rare sable antelope. As with every great historical event, there is a great story so I have to start with some background. Here we are:

     

     

    This pen is what they call a Boma in South Africa. We are at Sable Ranch which is a Private Natural Heritage Site supported by proactive breeding of rare Sable (which you see behind us) and Roan antelope, luxury game lodge accommodation (www.thabakhaya.co.za), bush lodge and lion sanctuary. The gentleman on the left is Dr. Morne de la Rey, the Director of Embrio Plus (www.embryoplus.com), a veterinarian that specializes in embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization, and artificial insemination. He has been recruited to utilize his skills and knowledge to apply these techniques to endangered species in the hopes that they can be saved from extinction. The next 2 gentlemen in the foreground are Kenya Wildlife Services veterinarians who care for the last 3 Northern White Rhino. Check out this really cool (but sad) infographic about Sudan and the story of the northern whites! http://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/uploads/assets/uploads/2015/11/OP_Infographic_Updated_2015.pdf

    This is one of the Sable antelopes with Dr. Morne and his team getting ready for oocyte collection – fingers crossed!

     

     

    Because every species of animal is different with regards to … well … everything, these techniques have to be optimized to different ovulation timing, pH of collection medium, and well … everything else. This day the first step of in vitro fertilization, oocyte collection, was successfully done for the first time ever in this species. Let’s pray that it’s not too late for these techniques to help critically endangered animals like the Northern White Rhino.