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Reference Desk August 2012

University's New Online Program to Help Vets Tackle Global Challenge of Protecting Endangered Animals

    EDINBURGH, Scotland, August 21, 2012—The growing number of endangered species has led to the development of a unique course to help vets tackle this global challenge at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The course is aimed at international vets, enabling them to study flexibly part-time through online learning and achieve a certificate, diploma, or masters degree over one, two, or three years. The first intake of students, which starts in September, will include vets from Cyprus, France, India, North America, Rwanda, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

    Anna Meredith, MA, VetMB, CertLAS, DZooMed, MRCVS, professor of zoological and conservation medicine, is heading up a MVetSci in Conservation Medicine. Professor Meredith joined the school in 1992 and was instrumental in setting up its Exotic Animal and Wildlife Service. “Conservation medicine needs biologists, ecologists, public health specialists and vets to work together, but while a lot of vets are keen to become involved there is limited training in this area. This is why we wanted to run such a course that could be accessed by vets from all over the world," she said.

    “Animal health and human health are inextricably linked, and human behaviour also has a major impact on many different species. Vets have an important role to play in wildlife conservation, which needs not only a holistic but also an interdisciplinary approach with regards to looking at ecological health and how ecosystems interact,” she continued.

    Professor Meredith is also involved in research and surveillance related to the conservation of red squirrels and Scottish wildcats. She also chairs the UK Government’s Zoos Expert Committee. Out of more than 63,000 species, including plants, birds, fish, mammals and amphibians, nearly 20,000 are endangered or critically endangered with climate change and habitat destruction as major factors. This includes the melting of sea ice, which is affecting the fate of polar bears dependent on the ice as a floating platform to catch prey. Rising sea levels are also affecting sea turtles in Brazil, which lay their eggs on beaches.

    More information on the online MVetSci in conservation medicine can be found at: www.ed.ac.uk/vet/conservation-medicine

    Source: University of Edinburgh

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