Hooo-Hooo Volume 10, Nr 1 - Page 13

and find out if it is linked to disease in other organs such as the stomach and intestine. Preliminary results suggest that the disease is not linked to other kidney, stomach or intestinal disease in cheetahs, so genetic and/or environmental factors may play a role. In 2014, Dr Desiré Dalton (DR&SS, NZG) and Prof Laurie Marker of Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia were thrilled to be awarded funding for two years, through a National Research Foundation Bilateral Agreement, to develop scientific collaboration between the two countries. CCF (www.cheetah.org) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild and maintains a research program on the biology, ecology and genetics of cheetahs. The funding has enabled scientists and students to visit each other’s institutions to inform each other of our research areas and fields of interest, exchange ideas, work in each other’s labs and participate in collaborative research. The project chosen was to determine whether or not oxalate kidney disease could be caused by mutations in the same two genes that are linked to the disease in humans and domestic cats. Genetic investigations are the expertise of Dr Dalton and Dr Anne SchmidtKüntzel (CCF) as well as a new member to the team Dr Monica Mwale, a forensic geneticist at the DR&SS. Although the sequencing of the genes in samples from affected and unaffected healthy cheetahs is still underway, affected cheetahs are more closely related than unaffected ones, supporting a possible genetic role for the disease. All the hard work came together on a cool dusty June afternoon when Prof Antoinette Kotze (Manager, DR&SS, NZG), Prof Terio and Drs Dalton, Lane and Mwale as well as Antonie Kloppers (a student working on the genetics project) arrived at CCF for a workshop to discuss all the results to date and plan for ways in which the collaboration can go forward in the future. NZG staff were made very welcome by Prof Marker and Dr Schmidt-Küntzel and the CCF team. In addition to presenting and discussing our results and planning future collaborative research programmes, we were taken on visits to the cheetah exercise programme, the museum, a tour of the new genetics labs, the cheetah tracking and scat detection projects, the goat and sheep model farm as well as the small stock Anatolian/Kangal shepherd dog programme. CCF approaches cheetah conservation from a wide-ranging multidisciplinary platform with strong community education programmes. Watch this space! This is only the beginning of what we expect to be a long and fruitful collaboration. Publications documenting our results are underway and perhaps one day we may have test that will distinguish those cheetahs that are predisposed to oxalate kidney disease so we can investigate the disease in free-ranging cheetahs and reduce the level of the disease in captive cheetahs. E Lane, M Mwale, H Brettschneider, A Kotze, D Dalton (NZG) A Schmidt-Küntzel L Marker (CCF) K Terio (UI) Customised veterinary medicines to effectively address your patient’s requirements Service Centre: 0860 109 779 or pharmacist@v-tech.co.za ISO 9001:2008 Accredited 2016 MARCH 13