The concept of ecosystem health encompasses many things often taken for granted: the water we drink, the air we breathe, the land upon which we live, and all of the creatures, big and small, with whom we share this planet. Veterinarians are essential in maintaining earth’s varied ecosystems.
Integral to the CVM commitment to this health field is the Environmental Medicine Consortium (EMC), which addresses ecosystem challenges facing North Carolina, the nation, and the world. As civilization continues to intrude upon wilderness areas, conservation of endangered and threatened species and their habitats is a growing concern for all EMC faculty and students.
Programs addressing a range of ecological issues around the globe include: helping farmers in Southeast Asia control the impact of agriculture on natural rivers, studying ways to keep migrating forest elephants from destroying villages in Cameroon, working with tropical fish producers in South America to improve their yield without harming wild fish populations or the native rivers in which they live, addressing health and reproductive issues in the Pallas’ cat of Northern Asia, and mountain gorilla conservation efforts in Rwanda and Uganda.
Closer to home, EMC clinical programs that help maintain the health of free ranging wildlife include the marine mammal and sea turtle health assessment programs, the North Carolina bear health survey, the recovery of the red wolf in northeastern North Carolina, and collaborative work with wildlife rehabilitation centers in re-establishing wild river otters in the mountains of North Carolina and West Virginia.
While many EMC projects address wildlife and conservation issues, its strong work in the areas of ecology of disease and in the examination of the changing interface between wildlife and humans and their domestic animals is recognized as critical to the future health of the planet.