Healthy ecosystems are vital for the survival of humans, animals and plants, and healthy wildlife and rich biodiversity is essential for ecosystem health. Unfortunately, human activity reduces the natural world’s capacity to cope with challenges. Changes in land use, climate and loss of biodiversity threaten our health, our food and water stability, our wildlife and the very ecosystems that help to sustain life on earth.
Wildlife health concerns cross geopolitical boundaries, and the consequences of biodiversity loss in other countries have global impacts. In response to this, and to achieve WHA’s vision of Healthy Wildlife Healthy Australia, we are developing an international program in wildlife health to improve nature and community resilience in the Indo-Pacific.
In 2023, Wildlife Health Australia established a World Organisation for Animal Health’s (WOAH) Collaborating Centre for Wildlife Health Risk Management within the "wildlife health and biodiversity", area of focus and the speciality Drivers of Emerging Risks. Within the Asia-Pacific region, WHA's Collaborating Centre will be complimentary and collaborative with other organisations with expertise in wildlife health and zoonotic diseases.
WHA’s Collaborating Centre will contribute to protecting animal and human health and their encompassing ecosystem throughout the Indo-Pacific region and can be utilised as a model for other regions. It will provide a sustainable resource to address drivers of wildlife disease; and improve disease prevention, preparedness, and response capabilities, including through risk analysis, risk management, and policy guidance.
The Collaborating Centre will undertake its activities by acknowledging regional cultural and resourcing differences by encompassing and promoting the traditional knowledge that links the health and well-being of animals, people, and the environment. It will develop and maintain positive relationships between Indo-Pacific countries, including government and non-government organisations within these countries.
The Collaborating Centre will link existing networks to improve intelligence sharing, coordinate regional networks, and promote and share effective wildlife health tools to benefit biosecurity and biodiversity outcomes.
WHA recognise the successful Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG) as a proven model of what can be achieved with collaboration. This model can be scaled up to encompass more wildlife species of zoonotic potential across a broader region.