Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation

Doha, Qatar

Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation

Doha, Qatar
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Hummel J.,University of Gottingen | Hammer C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | Hammer S.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | Sudekum K.-H.,University of Bonn | And 2 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2017

In contrast to the domestic horse, whose digestive physiology has been thoroughly investigated, knowledge on the digestive physiology of wild equids is scarce. Comparisons between the domestic horse and the domestic donkey suggest that wild asses might achieve higher digestibilities. This could derive from longer retention times or a greater difference in the mean retention time (MRT) of particles vs. fluid (the selectivity factor (SF)). Here, we measured MRT of a solute (fluid; MRTsolute) and a particle (<2 mm; MRTparticle) marker in five captive male Somali wild asses (Equus africanus somaliensis) fed a diet of 95% grass hay. At a mean dry matter intake of 94 ± 3 g kg−0.75 day−1, MRTsolute was 33.3 ± 5.4 h and MRTparticle 39.6 ± 3.9 h, resulting in a SF of 1.21 ± 0.14. For their food intake, Somali wild asses appeared to have slightly higher MRTparticle than expected based on domestic equid data, in contrast to Grevy zebras (Equus grevyi), potentially indicating higher capacities of the digestive tract. However, considering data on domestic horses, donkeys, and zebra, there was no evident difference in the SF of wild equids compared to domestic ones. Together with an absence of reported anatomical differences in the digestive tract of wild and domestic equids, the data suggest a general similarity in the digestive physiology of equid species that contrasts with the diversity in the digestive physiology of ruminants, and that might be one contributing factor to a lack of sympatric, niche-differentiated equid species. © 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Hassanin A.,CNRS Systematics, Biodiversity and Evolution Institute | Delsuc F.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Ropiquet A.,University of the Western Cape | Hammer C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | And 8 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Biologies | Year: 2012

The order Cetartiodactyla includes cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) that are found in all oceans and seas, as well as in some rivers, and artiodactyls (ruminants, pigs, peccaries, hippos, camels and llamas) that are present on all continents, except Antarctica and until recent invasions, Australia. There are currently 332 recognized cetartiodactyl species, which are classified into 132 genera and 22 families. Most phylogenetic studies have focused on deep relationships, and no comprehensive time-calibrated tree for the group has been published yet. In this study, 128 new complete mitochondrial genomes of Cetartiodactyla were sequenced and aligned with those extracted from nucleotide databases. Our alignment includes 14,902 unambiguously aligned nucleotide characters for 210 taxa, representing 183 species, 107 genera, and all cetartiodactyl families. Our mtDNA data produced a statistically robust tree, which is largely consistent with previous classifications. However, a few taxa were found to be para- or polyphyletic, including the family Balaenopteridae, as well as several genera and species. Accordingly, we propose several taxonomic changes in order to render the classification compatible with our molecular phylogeny. In some cases, the results can be interpreted as possible taxonomic misidentification or evidence for mtDNA introgression. The existence of three new cryptic species of Ruminantia should therefore be confirmed by further analyses using nuclear data. We estimate divergence times using Bayesian relaxed molecular clock models. The deepest nodes appeared very sensitive to prior assumptions leading to unreliable estimates, primarily because of the misleading effects of rate heterogeneity, saturation and divergent outgroups. In addition, we detected that Whippomorpha contains slow-evolving taxa, such as large whales and hippos, as well as fast-evolving taxa, such as river dolphins. Our results nevertheless indicate that the evolutionary history of cetartiodactyls was punctuated by four main phases of rapid radiation during the Cenozoic era: the sudden occurrence of the three extant lineages within Cetartiodactyla (Cetruminantia, Suina and Tylopoda); the basal diversification of Cetacea during the Early Oligocene; and two radiations that involve Cetacea and Pecora, one at the Oligocene/Miocene boundary and the other in the Middle Miocene. In addition, we show that the high species diversity now observed in the families Bovidae and Cervidae accumulated mainly during the Late Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene. © 2011 Académie des sciences.

PubMed | Center for Zoo and Wild Animal Health, University of Aarhus, Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation and University of Zürich
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Anatomia, histologia, embryologia | Year: 2016

The digestive tract anatomy of 14 blackbucks (Antilope cervicapra) and seven Arabian sand gazelles (Gazella subgutturosa marica) was quantified by dimensions, area and weight. Data from the two small-sized antilopinae were evaluated against a larger comparative data set from other ruminants classified as having either a cattle-type or moose-type digestive system. The digestive anatomy of the blackbuck resembled that of cattle-type ruminants, which corresponds to their feeding ecology and previous studies of solute and particle retention time; however, a surprising exception was the remarkably small omasum in this species, which makes the blackbuck stand out from the general rule of a relatively large omasum in grazing ruminants. Sand gazelles had morphological features that corresponded more to the moose type or an intermediate position, although previous studies of solute and particle retention time had led to the expectation of a more cattle-type anatomy. The results show that outliers to general morphological trends exist, that findings on physiology and anatomy do not always match completely and that differences in the digestive morphology among ruminant species are more difficult to demonstrate at the lower end of the body mass range.

Hammer S.,Naturschutz Tierpark Gorlitz | Watson R.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation
Zoologische Garten | Year: 2012

This article summarizes the experience of 11 years Spix's Macaw captive management in Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP)/Qatar. Details on AWWP's acquisition of Spix's Macaws, research, breeding management, demographics, diet, housing, veterinary work, behavioural enrichment and problems are described and explained. At the end we discuss the future prospects and plans related to this species in AWWP. To our knowledge, at the time of writing, 87 Spix's macaws are existing in captivity, 75 of them participate in the international breeding program, initiated and managed by the "Institute Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio)", the Brazilian environmental agency. In 2011, 55 of these breeding program birds live at AWWP in Qatar. © 2012.

Fischer D.,Justus Liebig University | Neumann D.,Parrot Reproduction Consulting | Purchase C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | Bouts T.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | And 3 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2014

The Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) is the rarest parrot on earth. The remaining captive population consists of 79 individuals. Captive propagation is ongoing to increase the number of individuals for future reintroduction back into the wild. Unfortunately, from 2004 to 2012, only 33 chicks hatched from 331 eggs. Semen evaluation and assisted reproduction might help to overcome this problem. Therefore, a recently developed electro-stimulated semen collection technique was used in Spix's macaws. Semen collection was successful in 39 of 78 attempts in 10 out of 17 males. Examination of the semen included evaluation of volume, color, consistency, contaminations and pH, as well as determination of motility, viability, morphology, concentration, and total count of spermatozoa. The median volume of semen samples was 5.6μl. On average, 34.7±21.9% (median 30%) of the sperm were motile and 23.1±22.1% (median 16.5%) were progressively motile. In addition to spermatozoa, round cells were detected in the samples. Median sperm concentration was 15,500/μl (range 500-97,500/μl) and median viability was 50% (range 5-87%). Morphological examination revealed in 26.5% normal spermatozoa, high numbers of malformations of the head (50.2%) and tail region (20.5%), with 29% of all sperm showing multiple abnormalities. Artificial insemination was performed in three females; two eggs laid after artificial insemination had spermatozoa present on the perivitelline layer, suggesting the possible success of the insemination technique. Although no fertilization could be demonstrated, these preliminary results are promising, as they indicate that assisted reproduction might be a tool for species conservation in the Spix's macaw. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals Inc.

Codron D.,University of Zürich | Codron D.,University of KwaZulu - Natal | Codron D.,University of Colorado at Boulder | Sponheimer M.,University of Colorado at Boulder | And 6 more authors.
European Journal of Wildlife Research | Year: 2012

Faecal stable isotope compositions reflect wildlife diets, if digestive processes along the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) do not alter diet-faeces isotopic relationships in an unpredictable way. We investigated 13C and 15N compositions of digesta along the ruminant GIT, using Saanen dairy goats kept on pure grass hay or browse for >20 days. Isotopic changes occurred in the ventral rumen, and in the small intestine, where digesta had significantly higher δ 13C and δ 15N (associated with lower C or higher N content, respectively) values relative to other GIT sites. However, effects on isotope fractionation were small (~1.0‰ for δ 13C and ~2.0‰ for δ 15N), and were reversed in the hindgut such that faecal isotope compositions did not differ from the foregut. No other substantial isotopic changes occurred across GIT sites, despite the morphophysiological complexity of the ruminant GIT. We found similarly small differences across GIT components of rheem gazelles (Gazella leptoceros) fed a mixture of C 3 lucerne and C 4 grass, although in this case faeces were 15N-depleted relative to other GIT components. Along with differences in δ 15N between goats fed browse or grass, this result implies a systematic difference in diet-faeces δ 15N relationships, contingent on the botanical composition of ruminant diets. Thus, while our results support faecal δ 13C as a reliable proxy for wildlife diets, further work on factors influencing faecal 15N abundance is needed. Finally, we note high levels of isotopic variability between individuals fed the same diets, even accounting for the relatively short duration of the experiments, suggesting an important influence of stochasticity on isotope fractionation. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

Fritz J.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Hammer S.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | Hammer S.,Naturschutz Tierpark Gorlitz e.V. | Hebel C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | And 6 more authors.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology | Year: 2012

Ostriches (Struthio camelus) achieve digesta retention times, digesta particle size reduction and digestibilities equal to similar-sized herbivorous mammals, in contrast to some other avian herbivores. The sequence of digestive processes in their gastrointestinal tract, however, is still unexplored. Using two groups of four ostriches (mean body mass 75.1±17.3kg) kept on fresh alfalfa, we tested the effect of two intake levels (17 and 42g dry matter kg-0.75d-1) on the mean retention time (MRT) of a solute and three different-sized (2, 10, 20mm) particle markers, mean faecal particle size (MPS), and digestibility. Intake level did not affect MRT, but MPS (0.74 vs. 1.52mm) and dry matter digestibility (81 vs. 78%). The solute marker (MRT 22-26h) was excreted faster than the particle markers; there was no difference in the MRT of 10 and 20mm particles (MRT 28-32h), but 2mm particles were retained longer (MRT 39-40h). Because the solute marker was not selectively retained, and wet-sieving of gut contents of slaughtered animals did not indicate smaller particles in the caeca, the long MRT of small particles is interpreted as intermittent excretion from the gizzard, potentially due to entrapment in small grit. The marker excretion pattern also showed intermittent peaks for all markers in five of the animals, which indicates non-continuous outflow from the gizzard. When adding our data to literature data on avian herbivores, a dichotomy is evident, with ostrich and hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) displaying long MRTs, high digestibilities, and gut capacities similar to mammalian herbivores, and other avian herbivores such as grouse, geese or emus with shorter MRTs, lower fibre digestibilities and lower gut capacities. In the available data for all avian herbivores where food intake and MRTs were measured, this dichotomy and food intake level, but not body mass, was related to MRT, adding to the evidence that body mass itself may not be sole major determinant of digestive physiology. The most striking difference between mammalian and avian herbivores from the literature is the fundamentally lower methane production measured in the very few studies in birds including ostriches, which appears to be at the level of reptiles, in spite of general food intake levels of a magnitude as in mammals. Further studies in ostriches and other avian herbivores are required to understand the differences in digestive mechanisms between avian and mammalian herbivores. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Hebel C.,University of Zürich | Ortmann S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Hammer S.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | Hammer C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | And 3 more authors.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology | Year: 2011

Morphological characteristics of the forestomach, as well as reports of a natural diet that mostly excludes monocots, suggest that dikdiks (Madoqua spp.), among smallest extant ruminants, should have a 'moose-type' forestomach physiology characterised by a low degree of selective particle retention. We tested this assumption in a series of feeding experiments with 12 adult Phillip's dikdiks (Madoqua saltiana phillipsi) on three different intake levels per animal, using cobalt-EDTA as a solute marker and a 'conventional' chromium-mordanted fibre (< 2. mm; mean particle size 0.63. mm) marker for the particle phase. Body mass had no influence on retention measurements, whereas food intake level clearly had. Drinking water intake was not related to the retention of the solute marker. In contrast to our expectations, the particle marker was retained distinctively longer than the solute marker. Comparisons with results in larger ruminants and with faecal particle sizes measured in dikdiks suggested that in these small animals, the chosen particle marker was above the critical size threshold, above which particle delay in the forestomach is not only due to selective particle retention (as compared to fluids), but additionally due to the ruminal particle sorting mechanism that retains particles above this threshold longer than particles below this threshold. A second study with a similar marker of a lower mean particle size (0.17. mm, which is below the faecal particle size reported for dikdiks) resulted in particle and fluid retention patterns similar to those documented in other 'moose-type' ruminants. Nevertheless, even this smaller particle marker yielded retention times that were longer than those predicted by allometric equations based on quarter-power scaling, providing further support for observations that small ruminants generally achieve longer retention times and higher digestive efficiencies than expected based on their body size. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Ritz J.,University of Zürich | Hammer C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation | Clauss M.,University of Zürich
Zoo Biology | Year: 2010

The growth and weight development of Leopard tortoise hatchings (Geochelone pardalis) kept at the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), Qatar, was observed for more than four years, and compared to data in literature for freeranging animals on body weight or carapace measurements. The results document a distinctively faster growth in the captive animals. Indications for the same phenomenon in other tortoise species (Galapagos giant tortoises, G. nigra; Spurthighed tortoises, Testudo graeca; Desert tortoises, Gopherus agassizi) were found in the literature. The cause of the high growth rate most likely is the constant provision with highly digestible food of low fiber content. Increased growth rates are suspected to have negative consequences such as obesity, high mortality, gastrointestinal illnesses, renal diseases, "pyramiding," fibrous osteodystrophy or metabolic bone disease. The apparently widespread occurrence of high growth rates in intensively managed tortoises underlines how easily ectothermic animals can be oversupplemented with nutrients. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Hammer C.,Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation
International Zoo Yearbook | Year: 2011

Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP), Qatar, is the only facility worldwide to keep the Beira antelope Dorcatragus megalotis, a small antelope from East Africa, listed as Vulnerable by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Physical, behavioural and physiological characteristics of the species are described in detail, based on observations in captivity. At AWWP, the Beira antelope population increased from 2000 until 2006 when it declined dramatically as a result of an epidemic-like outbreak of a respiratory disease most likely owing to a Mycoplasma infection. Management at AWWP includes a diet based on natural forage, careful group composition, enclosure design adapted to the need of the species and close monitoring. Apart from their important conservation status, Beira antelope are highly attractive animals with a particular shape and coloration, and a docile nature. © 2011 The Authors. International Zoo Yearbook © 2011 The Zoological Society of London.

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