- Linda Penfold
- Nome: Linda Penfold
- Instituição: White Oak Conservation Center
- Projeto: Cryopreservation and exportation of Kenyan gerenuk semen: An international collaborative conservation effort to improve gerenuk captive breeding.
- Resumo: Background to the project
The gerenuk is a medium sized antelope, found throughout Eastern Africa. Gerenuk can be found in captivity in several zoos and wildlife institutions, including White Oak, in the US. Recognized by their long neck captive and fragile nature, they are among the most delicate of the antelope species. Captive gerenuk have many health problems, including a high incidence of infant mortality and a high susceptibility to disease. Also, certain bloodlines produce offspring with facial abnormalities and males produce semen containing high numbers of abnormal spermatozoa. These problems may be linked to the original small founder number and consequent lack of genetic diversity.
Preliminary studies have shown that gerenuk found in the wild in Kenya, have increased genetic diversity and better semen quality than US captive counterparts. New genes can be added to the population by introducing new animals for breeding. However, we are aiming to prevent removal of animals from the wild by collecting the necessary genetic material, in the form of semen, and using that to artificially inseminate captive female gerenuk. Artificial insemination (AI) with cryopreserved sperm can increase genetic management and since cryopreserved sperm can be stored for decades, the genes of valuable wild males could be used for years to come. The ability to AI females in the US captive herd with semen collected from wild gerenuk in Kenya would increase the genetic diversity and potentially improve the overall health of the captive population.
Benefits to Kenya
One of the important points of the project is that ‘biodiversity’ is not being depleted from a range country (by taking animals), but instead, in the form of frozen sperm, can become a sustainable resource. We would like to move away from a quid pro quo arrangement, whereby tangibles such as equipment or donations are offered, as this could be potentially limiting for future individuals or institutions wishing to work with Kenya. Instead, we are participating in collaborative efforts that are mutually beneficial, and foster long-term conservation partnerships with Kenya.
This groundbreaking project has the potential to revolutionize the way we manage animals in captivity. The ability to move genetic material around the world in the form of frozen sperm, instead of removing animals from the wild, allows us to introduce new genes into a captive population to keep animals healthy, but prevents the stress associated with removing and shipping animals from their country of origin.
For more information on this project contact: For donations to this project contact:
Dr. Linda Penfold Becky Thompson
Research Coordinator Administrative Assistant
Tel: (904) 225 3382 Tel: (904) 225 3316
Fax: (904) 225 3337 Fax: (904) 225 3395