Each MSc student undertakes an individual research project, between May and the middle of August, producing a grant application and a scientific paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. A conference is held in September where each student gives a presentation on their research findings. Over 100 scientific publications have resulted from research projects undertaken by MSc WAH and WAB students. The project will encompass a practical study on an approved aspect of wild animal health.
The research project provides the opportunity to study a topic suited to the student’s desired career. A wide variety of topic areas have been chosen including welfare, behaviour, infectious diseases, reproduction, nutrition, rehabilitation and management of both captive and free-living wild animals. The project may be undertaken at any place approved by the Zoological Society of London/Royal Veterinary College with the guidance of a course supervisor. Examples of previous WAH students research projects are written below.
How Do Pangolins Move? Locomotor Biomechanics of Chinese Pangolins (Manis pentadactyla) with Normal and Amputated Limbs/Tails
In Taiwan, the key threat to Chinese pangolin extinction is trauma, caused by illegal trapping and dog attacks. I-Ting Tu’s project addressed the need to understand more clearly pangolin locomotion to incorporate this knowledge to the evolution of their welfare and suitability for release if treated and rehabilitated.
The aims of her study were to: 1) quantify locomotor parameters of normal Chinese pangolins and 2) to investigate whether there are differences in gait parameters between normal and amputated pangolins. Through a cooperative conducted on Chinese pangolins at Taipei zoo, Taiwan she collected velocity and ground reaction forces, finding that peak vertical forces exerted by the hindlimbs of the pangolins were 1.7 times greater than the forelimbs, which is uncommon in mammalian species and will contribute to further research in creating criteria for evaluating the welfare of amputees or even releasing them back to the wild.
Maria Puig Ribas
Circulation of multiple paramyxoviruses in a captive population of African fruit bats in Ghana
Bats have been identified as a reservoir for several emerging zoonoses, including paramyxoviruses such as Hendra and Nipah virus that often cause fatal disease in humans. African fruit bats are hosts to great diversity of paramyxoviruses and as they roost near urban areas, may pose a spillover risk to humans.
Marias project addressed the need to investigate the viral diversity in reservoir populations, to aid in the prediction and prevention of emerging disease. The aim of her study was to detect paramyxoviruses circulating in a captive colony of Eidolon helvum and establish relationships with viruses detected in free-ranging African fruit bats, using urine samples. She identified multiple paramyxoviruses at a high incidence in the captive colony of E. helvum over a two-month period using four PCR protocols and identified a novel rubulavirus sequence in a free-ranging African fruit bat.