Animal Health Services

To save rhinos, we have active research all over the world. Continue reading to find out about a troubling disease in the black rhino. You will see how research is playing a critical role  in saving rhinos by overcoming this disease. 

Poaching and habitat destruction are threats to the endangered black rhinoceros. Moving rhinos to private sanctuaries or other managed care locations can protect them. Often, though, once there and protected, they develop health problems. Iron Storage Disease is the name given to one such problem. This complex disease occurs when too much iron accumulates in the body. The liver becomes damaged which can lead to illness and death.  To determine the causes, treatment, and prevention, it requires hard work through research. 

In South Africa, iron storage disease developed in rhinos recently relocated to protect them.  It became a new risk to their survival and thus a research priority. The Wild Animal Health Fund gathered the resources to help veterinarians overcome this problem. The first step was to compare blood profiles between wild and captive black rhinos. To do this, researchers collected samples from rhinos in habitats throughout South Africa. Other benefits have come from this work as well. Diet has emerged as a likely factor in this disease. Information collected on habitat is helping to guide the care and management of these rare animals. Another major accomplishment was to establish a regional laboratory in South Africa. This laboratory is able to analyze rhino blood protein using the highest standards. Staff in South Africa is now trained to track iron levels in wild rhino populations on their own. This capacity training will ensure continued progress toward eliminating this disease.

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