Crocodilian Conservation Conquers COVID Closedown

Sep. 4, 2020

In early August, CHAIRE Advisory Committee Member and Program Head of Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Medicine and Ecosystem Health in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Mark Flint, along with EcoHealth Management Assistant Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Jaylene Flint, and Australian Research Manager, Mr. Edward Qualischefski held a workshop to train crocodilian producers and researchers in welfare measurement techniques to study these ancient aquatic reptiles.

Using Zoom, Drs. Flint and Mr. Qualischefski presented from Ohio and Queensland Australia, respectively, to producers and researchers of the American alligator, Nile Crocodile, and Saltwater Crocodile from the United States, Africa and Australia. The workshop included how to use animal behavior as a tool in assessing welfare, the critical importance of developing an allostatic load index to better understand the environmental stressors acting on crocodilians, and the challenges of collecting these unique types of data. 

“We were originally meant to be delivering these training modules in person on farms and conservation areas working with these species,” says Dr. Mark Flint, “but with COVID bringing all international travel to a stop, we had to change our plans and present online to make sure the information still made it to our collaborators as they begin some vital sustainable production work.”

The Flints and Mr. Qualischefski are heading an ongoing study that aims to address the welfare needs of crocodilians commercially produced while ensuring this once threatened collection of species are sustainably managed. Through the One Health paradigm that believes human, animal and environmental health are all linked, they use ecology, veterinary medicine and animal science to measure telos (the concept of natural living) as their guiding benchmark to establish management protocols and conservation.

“Our work aligns with the beliefs of conservation medicine, One Health, ecosystem health, and the values of CHAIRE to responsibly use natural resources in a sustainable way to benefit animals, people and the environment in a humane, welfare-oriented approach.” says Dr. Jaylene Flint. “We want this balance now and in to the future; and the best way to do that is through global engagement and rigorous science”.

The group will continue to run these types of training sessions to knowledge share ideas and techniques among their Crocodilian community.