Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Methods of disease risk analysis in wildlife translocations for conservation purposes.

Abstract

Risk analysis processes have been developed to provide an objective, repeatable, transparent and documented assessment of the risks posed by a course of action or chain of decisions. Standardised techniques have been developed and are utilised routinely to aid decision making by governments and international organisations such as the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) in assessing the risk from disease to humans, domestic animals and wildlife. Wildlife managers and decision makers are increasingly adopting these processes to aide management of disease threats to conservation interventions, such as reintroductions, rehabilitation and release or wild-to-wild translocations. The ability to use structured, reasoned, recognised qualitative approaches is particularly useful when evidence and data are lacking, which is common when working with wildlife. Several different systems and formats are in use, but all broadly follow the principles of risk analysis advocated by Covello and Merkhofer (1993) in their treatise on across-discipline risk analysis for the above benefits to be realised. This paper reviews approaches to disease risk analysis in wildlife translocation projects addressing reasons for undertaking assessments, potential sources of information and personnel involved. There are always multiple hazards, which complicates the traditional risk analysis approach, and paucity of information on the identity and geographical distribution of parasites hampers hazard identification (Sainsbury and Vaughan-Higgins 2012). The Zoological Society of London's Disease Risk Analysis and Health Surveillance (DRAHS) project has been operating for 25 years, in partnership with Natural England and non-governmental organisations, to assess and respond to disease risks associated with interventions undertaken for the national Species Recovery Programme for native wildlife. Our experience from conducting these disease risk analyses is used to describe the limitations of the analysis and propose some methods to respond to these difficulties.