The Kumasi Zoo Manager, Dr. Meyir Y. Ziekah, has emerged winner of a Photo Contest organized as part of the 71st International Annual Wildlife Disease Association Congress in Athens, Georgia, USA.

Dr Ziekah, also a Wildlife Epidemiologist, and Dr Samuel Asumah, the Kumasi Zoo Veterinarian, both of the Wildlife Division (WD) of Forestry Commission , participated in the Congress organized on the theme: “People, Passion, & Purpose: The Pathway to Wildlife Health”.

Representing Ghana, they were the only participants from Africa, with over 620 wildlife veterinary professionals, researchers and students from various countries of the world, at the Conference.

The winning prize, a pair of Olympus Binoculars, was presented to Dr Ziekah during the conference banquet, for a photo of himself, feeding a stranded elephant calf which had not eaten for days, he submitted for the contest. The stranded elephant calf had been rescued by the Mole National Park Management, and they reached out to Dr. Ziekah as a Wildlife Veterinarian, to give veterinary medical attention to the elephant calf. It was subsequently moved to a makeshift rescue centre in Kumasi Zoo.
At the Conference, Dr Ziekah and Dr Asumah also gave lectures on “Zoonotic Diseases in Harvested Wild Animals for Meat: A Case in the Bushmeat Market in Kumasi City Centre, Ghana” and “Mortality Investigation and Disease Surveillance in Four Species of Sea Turtle in Ghana: Enhancing Conservation and Public Health Strategies”, respectively.

Both called for effective collaboration among local and international stakeholders in the animal health sector, including veterinary services, wildlife conservation, academia, research institutions and funding agencies. So that all could work together to ensure efficient wildlife disease diagnoses, zoonoses management and research and promote one (ecosystem) health amid increased emerging infectious diseases of animal origin globally.

The trip to the Congress in USA was sponsored by the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) working through the Animal Health Systems Strengthening (AHSS) project at the Office of the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) at the British Embassy in Ghana. As part of the sponsorship, the two wildlife veterinarians also made visits to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, St. Louis Zoo (the second biggest zoo in the USA) and Louisville Zoo, to attain new techniques in modern day animal disease investigation and treatment.

The two WD officials further secured a strategic partnership that will ensure Ghanaian wildlife experts on an annual basis, follow and replicate the works of Louisville Zoo experts in the USA.

The Wildlife Disease Association, is an international body established to acquire, disseminate, and apply knowledge of the health and diseases of wild animals in relation to their biology, conservation, and interactions with humans and domestic animals. And its 2023 Annual Conference aimed to find holistic solutions to current and emerging global challenges that optimize outcomes for humans, animals and the environment