Wildlife Welfare: Can the care of individual wild animals be good animal welfare, compatible with the ‘one health’ approach, and also with wider conservation goals?
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) cares for individual animals, and also wildlife populations and their habitats. We find solutions to problems that are good for both animals and people. These are the words found in our mission statement and frequently used in published material and online on our website – but can we live up to these lofty ideals and how do we set about achieving them? Can the care of individual animals be compatible with the ‘one health’ approach – or does it create greater risks for the animals themselves, the people who care for them and the populations to which they are returned? There are many who are critical of attempts to rescue, treat and return wildlife to the wild and consider that they are more of a threat to animal welfare, animal and human health, and can jeopardize wild populations. Looking at examples of IFAW’s work around the globe with wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, translocation and reintroduction, it is clear the veterinarian has a key role in ensuring that standards of good animal health, welfare and conservation are met. Examples from both terrestrial and marine environments, involving avian, mammalian and reptilian taxa are considered.