Leibniz-IZW condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine
The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research strongly condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine. The Leibniz-IZW employs Ukrainian scientists, is very concerned about our scientific colleagues in Ukraine and will support scientists in Ukraine to the best of our ability.
The Leibniz-IZW is an internationally renowned German research institute. It is part of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. and a member of the Leibniz Association. Our goal is to understand the adaptability of wildlife in the context of global change and to contribute to the enhancement of the survival of viable wildlife populations. For this purpose, we investigate the diversity of life histories, the mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations and their limits, including diseases, as well as the interrelations of wildlife with their environment and people. We use expertise from biology and veterinary medicine in an interdisciplinary approach to conduct fundamental and applied research – from the molecular to the landscape level – in close dialogue with the public and stakeholders. Additionally, we are committed to unique and high-quality services for the scientific community.
+++ Current information on African swine fever: The Leibniz-IZW conducts research on the population dynamics, on models of disease outbreaks in wild boars and on the ecology and human-wildlife interaction in urban areas. African swine fever is a reportable disease in domestic swine and therefor is the purview of the respective federal state laboratories and the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health) FLI. +++
Colossal Biosciences joins BioRescue in its mission to save the Northern White Rhino from extinction
With only two living females left, the partnership will contribute to the genetic recovery of the northern white rhino from complete extinction. Colossal developed a pioneering toolkit for the challenging task to restore genetic diversity from museal specimens for a living population of critically endangered species.
The Urkrain-war-damaged urban environment in Kharkiv is fatal for bats: Loss of roosts and lethal traps in destroyed buildings
Russia’s war in the Ukraine has severe consequences not only for humans, it also has detrimental effects on populations of urban and semi-urban wildlife in the attacked cities and regions. Scientists from the Ukrainian Bat Rehabilitation Center recently examined the effects of war-related damages to buildings on urban populations of one important and widespread bat species, the Common Noctule (Nyctalus noctula), in the city of Kharkiv in north-eastern Ukraine. They showed that many buildings used by bats as roosts have been destroyed and approximately 7,000 bats were killed. In addition, partially destroyed buildings have become a death trap for bats, resulting in several thousand more victims. The findings are published in the “Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research”.
Four years since the start of this ambitious project to save the Northern White Rhino from extinction, the BioRescue consortium has made significant progress towards its ultimate aim. Using advanced assisted reproduction technologies, 29 northern white rhino embryos have been created and cryopreserved, ready for a future transfer to a surrogate mother. Most recently, in May 2023, 18 eggs were collected from female Fatu. This resulted in five new embryos created, the highest number of embryos from any collection to date. The sperm for fertilisation came from two different bulls, thereby improving genetic diversity. The BioRescue research project is mainly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The protein AQN-3 from boar sperm binds negatively charged phospholipids
Mammalian seminal fluid contains a variety of proteins secreted by the accessory sex glands that are important for the processes involved in fertilisation. One of these proteins, which is found in ungulates - and in particularly large quantities in boars - is the spermadhesin AQN-3. A science team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), the Humboldt University of Berlin (HUB) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology has studied the protein and discovered unexpected properties that could help sperm remain functional until they reach the egg. The findings are published in the scientific journal “Chemistry and Physics of Lipids”.
In autumn 2022 and winter 2023, a total of 20 cheetahs from Namibia and South Africa were introduced to Kuno National Park in India to establish a free-ranging population – for the first time since their extinction in India 70 years ago. Although the idea may be commendable, getting it right is not so easy. Scientists of the Cheetah Research Project of Leibniz-IZW in Namibia see shortcomings in the reintroduction plan: In southern Africa, cheetahs live in a stable socio-spatial system with widely spread territories and densities of less than one individual per 100 km². The plan for cheetahs in Kuno National Park assumes that the high prey density will sustain high cheetah densities, even though there is no evidence that high cheetah density depends on high prey density. As Kuno National Park is small, it is likely that the released animals will move far beyond the park's boundaries and cause conflicts with neighbouring villages, the team said in a letter in the scientific journal “Conservation Science and Practice”.
Which factors influence the risk of fatal collisions between vehicles and spotted hyenas in the Serengeti? Findings from a long-term study over three decades
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to large populations of wildlife species, including spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). While many human activities are prohibited in the national park, driving is allowed in and through the protected area. Using a 34-year long-term data set, a scientific team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) analysed which factors significantly contributed to hyenas being run over and killed by vehicles. These were, firstly, the type of road, and secondly, the annual migration of the large ungulate herds in the Serengeti and the associated seasonal changes in the localisation of the prey animals of spotted hyenas. The findings provide new insights into which ecological and individual factors influence the risk of fatalities for carnivores in collisions with vehicles; they were published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.