Final report: preparing Australia by preparing Papua New Guinea

​A biogeographic and ecological approach to wildlife health surveillance in Sahul: preparing Australian by preparing Papua New Guinea - final report 2012-13

Background and Objectives

This project aims to improve biosecurity for emergency animal diseases in wildlife in Australia by building on existing capacity in Papua New Guinea, which has a very close biogeographic and ecological relationship with Australia. The project has three objectives that together will develop personnel trained for wildlife health surveillance in PNG, identify risks for disease incursions and emergence in wildlife in PNG, facilitate collaboration and extension of the national wildlife health teams in Australia and PNG, and stimulate future capacity-building, collaboration, surveillance and risk-mitigation in the region.

The first component of this project has been highly successful. A workshop in wildlife health was held in Goroka, PNG, from 24-28 June this year. Sixteen full-time and another five part-time participants attended from a range of organisations (see attached report). Key outcomes from this workshop were increased capacity in wildlife health knowledge, disease investigation and surveillance. Furthermore, the formation of inter-organisational connections emerged as a particularly valuable aspect of the workshop and led to the establishment of a PNG Wildlife Health Network. The remaining component of this project, further training of four delegates in Australia, is scheduled for September-November because of the challenges of organising visas for these delegates.

Key Performance Indicators & Milestones

Week-long wildlife health workshop
This workshop was held between 24-28 June, 2013, in Goroka, PNG. Details of the workshop feedback is available on request.

Two one-month field trips in PNG for field training
Four delegates from the workshop, representing a range of interests and institutions in PNG, were chosen to take part in a single one-month field trip. The two field trips have been consolidated into one in order that these can be carried out in a timely fashion that works for all trainees. Extra field researchers will accompany the trip to ensure trainees have enough contact to benefit from the experience. Furthermore, discussions with these delegates identified a greater value in working this field work into their own projects.
 
One 8-week long program of training in Australia
The four delegates undergoing field training will travel to Australia in September-November to undertake training in wildlife health. Programs have been made for these trainees. All trainees will attend and present at the Wildlife Disease Association Australasian conference in the Grampians in late September. This aspect of the program has been extended to 12 weeks duration thanks to further financial support for this program from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.

A collaborative article identifying key emergency animal disease threats in PNG wildlife will be submitted.

A draft of this is being prepared by a PNG collaborator involved with this project (Sinafa Robby). It will be finalised shortly following the workshop. Furthermore, a letter to the editor regarding the workshop has been accepted by the Australian Veterinary Journal. Another article focussing on wildlife health capacity building in Papua New Guinea will be drafted in October for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

A report detailing the outcomes of the project will be compiled.

This is being compiled currently and will be forwarded to DAFF and other relevant stakeholders in September.

Conclusion

The key milestones described in the project proposal have been accomplished or will be carried out within the next three months. Dates were delayed by six months in this project to ensure that key delegates from the Institute for Medical Research, Wildlife Conservation Society and Institute for Biological Research in PNG could attend. This proved to be a particular success of the project.


Andrew Peters
Charles Sturt University, Australia