HOPE Report No6 2004-05-25

Program No.6 (Joint research)

The first conference on "Diseases - the third major threat for wild Great Apes?" in MPIEVA in Leipzig, Germany.


Period: 29 March - 19 April, 2004

Shiho FUJITA Division of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Applied Biological Sciences, Gifu University JSPS Research Fellow

May 5 - 19, 2004

I attended the first conference on "Disease - the third major threat for wild Great Apes?" in Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, from May 6 to 8, 2004 (see

 This conference was held to discuss the diseases which are a serious threat for the last remaining populations of wild living great apes as well as hunting and loss of habitat. I reported on the results of monitoring health status of wild chimpanzees by using non-invasive samples such as urine and feces (see Abstract). I exchanged information about the technical difficulties of the health monitoring and the possibility of its improvement with researchers and veterinarians working in various sites.

 In the last day of the conference, the participants discussed the future plan for organizing "Great Ape Health Monitoring Unit (GAHMU)" in four working groups (hygienic measures, emergency plan, health monitoring and diagnosis). In each group, the following topics were discussed; making guidelines for observation of wild Great Apes, developing a collaborative multi-site health monitoring, making protocol of emergency response, and making a list of analyzed pathogens and labs performing the analysis for diagnostic. Finally, we came to agree about collaborating in health monitoring of wild Great Apes and sharing the information through web.

After the conference, I visited two institutes, German Primate Centre (Germany), Equipe d'Ethologie des Primates, CNRS (France) and Appenheul (Netherland). I reported the studies on the relationship between hormones and behaviours in Japanese macaques and discussed future collaboration on the comparative study between macaque species. I also visited Appenhuel where I collected behavioral data of the monkeys and the apes which are kept in social groups.


A colony of long-tailed macaques for behavioral observation in Equipe d'Ethologie des Primates, CNRS, France.

Enclosure for a social group of gorillas in Appenheul, Netherland.


Fujita, S., Asaoka, K., Ogasawara, A., Kageyama, T.

The great apes face many threats to their continued existence in the wild, one of these threats is disease. Especially in the populations which are habituated for tourism or research purposes, the great apes are faced with a high risk of disease transmission from humans. Periodic monitoring of their health status is necessary. Non-invasive samples such as urine and feces can be repeatedly obtained from habituated animals without capturing them and recently the possibility of monitoring health status by using such samples was reported from several populations. Collecting data of various examinations by using non-invasive samples from various populations was useful to know the normal range of animals' conditions. We collected 633 urinary and 54 fecal samples intermittently in 2001 and 2002 from wild chimpanzees of two populations, Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania and Bossou in Guinea. We used urinary regent strips to check the physiological status of the chimpanzees. This test measures ketone bodies, urobilinogen, blood, ascorbic acid, glucose, protein and pH. Fecal samples were tested to detect Clostridium perfuringens, which is a bacterium of intestinal microflora and can adversely influence the health of their animal host when persistently existing at a high proportion to intestinal microflora. It was possible to detect a small number of the bacteria by nested PCR procedure. In the urinary strip tests, levels of ketone bodies and protein fluctuated within an animal. We did not detect C. perfuringens in most fecal samples. Our results did not show an obvious incidence of illness in the chimpanzees. It is considered that continuous health monitoring is important for early finding of an unpredictable disease.


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