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Alessandra Nava

Consulting Senior Scientist

Alessandra Nava

For more than a decade, Dr. Alessandra Nava has worked in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, working with sentinel species such as jaguars, ocelots and peccaries.
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Tainted Love

Posted by Jim Desmond on March 25th, 2011

After our trip to Tanguar Haor it was back to Dhaka to meet EcoHealth Alliance colleague, Dr. Jon Epstein. Jon was planning on accomplishing two major tasks. First to head out the field to attach satellite collars to flying foxes (fruit bats) and then prepare for a trip to Hakaluki Haor with the rest of the ICDDR,B team. In addition, Nichola Hill, from the United States Geological Service (USGS) joined us for the trip to Hakaluki to equip some of the captured birds with satellite collars. It's a complicated process to attach collars to birds and it was exciting to watch it actually happen. Nichola has put collars on birds around the world from Bangladesh to Mongolia to Egypt and Nigeria as part of a larger effort, led by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to understand Avian Influenza globally. Again thanks to our amazing field team, Nichola was able to attach collars to 27 birds from five different species in record time (less than 10 days) which is a remarkable achievement.

teamAfter a brief visit with the field team in Hakaluki I rushed back to Dhaka to make a presentation with Dr. Andrea Mikolon from ICDDR,B for the Department of Forests to explain our work and alert them to the threat of poisoned migratory birds. Our team encountered poisoned birds frequently over the course of the season as local hunters would poison birds and then sell them in the market as if they had been caught and slaughtered. Not only is this a conservation and animal welfare issue, but also a public health threat, as local people are unknowingly consuming tainted birds. Our team has saved 15 - 20 birds by treating them with atropine which acts as an antidote to the poison. The presentation was a success and we have made plans to train members of the Bird Club of Bangladesh on how to treat poisoned birds if they encounter them in the field. It saddens everyone on the team when we come across poisoned animals. All of our work to save species and protect the health of the environment, wildlife and humans is challenging and a constant education process but it keeps us going. We simply love what we do and know we can succeed.

My stay in Dhaka is short, as I'm waiting to head back out into the field with colleague Kevin Olival to sample some small bats. I have experience with the larger flying foxes but not with the smaller bat species that Kevin to obtain for his research on Nipah virus. I am looking forward to working with some new animals and learning some new techniques. After that, it's back to Entebbe, Uganda for a short break on the shores of Lake Victoria and then off to China!

Reporting from Bangladesh, EcoHealth Alliance scientist Jim Desmond is working toward monitoring highly pathogenic Avian influenza in wild migratory waterfowl.

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