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An increasing human population in Uganda has had consequences for free-ranging chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), including habitat destruction and antagonistic interaction with humans. This situation has led to increasing numbers of human-induced chimpanzee injuries, as well as elevated risks of pathogen transmission between these species. As a result, the need for veterinary intervention has increased commensurately.
The most common form of human-induced injury in chimpanzees in Uganda is from snaring (Waller and Reynolds 2001). Other situations that may require intervention are disease outbreaks and orphaned individuals. For example, respiratory disease outbreaks of human metapneumovirus and respiratory syncytial virus have occurred in chimpanzees in West Africa and have had devastating effects (Köndgen and others 2008). Interventions in such cases may be justified to provide treatment to the affected individuals and to obtain diagnostic specimens.
In deciding whether to intervene, veterinarians consult with wildlife authorities and consider the risk of intervention to the affected chimpanzee and field personnel, the resources available, the extent of injury or illness, and finally the potential benefit of the intervention to the individual chimpanzee and the population. Once the decision is made to intervene, the next challenge is choosing an appropriate anaesthetic regimen. The ideal regimen would be fast-acting, safe and reversible. Regimens exist for chemical immobilisation of captive chimpanzees but, to our knowledge, no similar protocols have been published for free-ranging chimpanzees. This …