Olive Baboon Research

To study venereal disease in olive baboons in Tanzania

 

The Lake Manyara National Park (LMNP) in the north of Tanzania (East-Africa) is famous for its populations of olive baboons, Papio anubis. Since 1995, a venereal disease in both adult male and female baboons has caused problems, whereas the aetiology has remained unknown.

 

During a first field survey in spring 2006 photos were taken to document the current health status of the olive baboons at LMNP. The manifestation of the disease can only be seen in adults and is described at extreme case to involve necrosis of the outer genital structure. Adult males additionally to their genital-infection were seen to suffer on alterations to their oronasal region. Affected baboons show clinical signs of discomfort and pain associated behaviour i.e. lethargy and heavy breathing. They may become infer-tile, which could have a long-term influence on the population development. There is, therefore, a need to take action for conservation purposes. Since non-human primates are prone to human diseases the interaction between humans and baboons around LMNP provides the opportunity for cross infection. The high prevalence of the disease in baboons ranging into human settlements leads to suspicion on the disease’s potential zoonotic nature. To study a disease’s ecology in wild primate populations will probably help understanding the basic principles of infectious disease. The goal for further investigations during a field work in spring 2007 is to find out about the aetiology of the venereal disease in order to stop it from spreading into other primate populations nearby. If possible and realistic, an action plan will be pre-pared to treat infected animals and to eradicate the disease.

 

WAZA Conservation Project 07002 is implemented by the Wuppertal Zoo and supported by the Universität Leipzig (equipment, transport in TZ), Robert-Koch-Institute (laboratory facilities and equipment), Deutsches Primatenzentrum (laboratory facilities and equipment), Sokoine University of Acriculture - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Morogoro TZ (coordination - field work), Society of Primatology (winner of the Christian Vogel Fond 2006), German Academic Exchange Program (living expenses).

 

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