Looking for a diploma or Master´s student!

We are looking for a motivated student for a Master´s thesis on the topic Hierarchieveränderung im Rothirschrudel

Further, we are looking for two (2) diploma students or Master´s students who want to do some field research and data analysis for 3 months plus analysis time on the topics 1) Reproduktion und Jungenaufzucht beim adulten Wildschwein and 2) Klimaeffekte auf die soziale Organisation beim Wildschwein


FIWI Annual Report 2016

The FIWI annual report for 2016 (in German only) can be downloaded by klicking on the picture.
Cover Foto of the FIWI Annual Report 2016




The wild ass returns

The first group of kulan that were captured in a corral in Altyn Emel National Park. (Photo: John Linnell/NINA)
Khulans running in a corral [Link 1]

For the first time in more than a century, Khulans - or Asian wild asses - roam the central steppes of Kazakhstan. Veterinarians and biologists of the Department of Conservation Medicine (FIWI) of the Vetmeduni Vienna provided technical support for the relocation of the first nine animals.

On October 24, 2017, a first group of animals were brought to an acclimatization enclosure on the edge of the Altyn Dala Reserve in central Kazakhstan. The animals had been transported 1200 kilometers by helicopter from the Altyn-Emel National Park in the southeast of the country. They will be released in the spring. This is the first step in a multi-year project that aims to restore the full range of large herbivores in this unique steppe habitat. Khulans once lived in the Middle East and Central Asia - from the Mediterranean to eastern Mongolia. During the last two centuries, their distribution has been dramatically reduced to less than 3% of their former habitat.

The current project aims to bring 30-40 kulans into the central steppes of Altyn Emel over the next 3-4 years.

More info [Link 2]

(Web editor, 14 November 2017)


Family ties among ural owls in the Vienna Woods

According to recent research, our free-range breeding birds are on average 5 years old. Over the last few years, the average age has steadily increased, indicating that mating is permanent and mortality rates remain low. (Photo © Jessica Winter)
Ural owl in the woods [Link 3]

Genetic examinations allow us to uniquely identify animals and gain insight into their family ties. In this way the identity of 9 out of 10 Habichtskauz breeding pairs (i.e. 18 adult birds in total) in the Vienna Woods could be determined unequivocally.

The 10th breeding pair remained incognito. However, from the genetics of the couple's chicks we were able to conclude that the adult birds are not owls released by us. We assume that they were born unnoticed by us in the Wienerwald Biosphere Reserve. This has probably happened before. Not all broods are detected by the resettlement team. That's why a few more owls may roam through the Vienna Woods and the Dürrenstein wilderness area than our minimum-number estimates suggest.Visitors regularly appear at the release sites (see video [Link 4]).

More info [Link 5]

(Web editor, 31 October 2017)


Reintroduced Przewalski’s horses have a different diet than before their extinction in the wild

The diet of the Przewalski's horses changed to grass after their reintroduction in the Gobi desert. (Photo: Martina Burnik Sturm/Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of Przewalski´s horse with a foal in the steppe [Link 6]

The preferred fodder of horses is grass. This is true for domestic horses as well as for wild horses in the Gobi Desert. A team of researchers from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna found out through tail hair analysis that before their extinction in the wild Przewalski’s horses had been on a different diet than today. Thanks to improved societal attitude, the horses have now access to richer pastures. In former times, the wild horses were hunted and chased away into less productive habitats.

The Przewalski’s horse, also called Takhi or Mongolian wild horse, is the only remaining wild horse species. In 1969, wild horses were officially declared extinct. However, a few animals survived in captivity. In 1992, first captive bred wild horses were returned to the wild.

Petra Kaczensky and Martina Burnik Šturm from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna now found out that before their extinction in the wild Przewalski’s horses were on a mixed diet. In summer, they only ate grass, in winter also less nutritious bushes. After their reintroduction, the animals only eat high-quality grass throughout the year.

The article  "Stable isotopes reveal diet shift from pre-extinction to reintroduced Przewalski’s horses [Link 7]” by Petra Kaczensky, Martina Burnik Šturm, Mikhail V. Sablin, Christian C. Voigt, Steve Smith, Oyunsaikhan Ganbaatar, Boglarka Balint, Chris Walzer and Natalia N. Spasskaya was published in Scientific Reports.

More info [Link 8]

(Web editor, 21 July 2017)


Johanna Painer wins the Ippen Young Scientist Award 2017

Wildlife specialist Johanna Painer was awarded the Ippen Young Scientist Award 2017. (Photo Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of veterinarian Johanna Painer with an anesthetised brown bear [Link 9]

The prize of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians for Young Scientists was awarded to Johanna Painer in 2017. The wildlife veterinarian from the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution of Vetmeduni Vienna received the prize of 1000 Euro for her previous achievements in the field of wildlife medicine. The award commemorates the renowned wildlife pathologist and co-founder of the international conference on diseases of zoo and wild animals, Rudolf Ippen.

Johanna Painer studied veterinary medicine at Vetmeduni Vienna and specialized in the interdisciplinary field of conservation medicine. Ultrasonography, mammalian anesthesia and reproductive management for large cats, ungulates, bears, primates and large herbivores are her main focus. She has been involved in many wildlife projects and is engaged in the fight against wildlfie crime and illegal animal trafficking.

She is currently working as a veterinarian and researcher in the veterinary team at the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution of Vetmeduni Vienna. There she is responsible for a variety of veterinary, clinical and research-related tasks, concerning large carnivores, wild ungulates, wild boars, small winter beetles and birds. Her current research focus is on biomimicry of the kidneys of animals and humans. With a team of human and veterinary clinics as well as biologists, Painer tries to find synergies between veterinary and human medicine.

In remembrance of Rudolf Ippen

The Ippen Young Scientist Award [Link 10] is awarded by the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians at an annual conference. The prize is  presented to honour veterinarian and pioneer of wildlife pathology Dr. Rudolf Ippen, who died in 2009. The Award honours young scientists whose scientific output, particularly publications of the past 12 months, document the beginning of a promising career in wildlife veterinary science, conservation medicine, or zoo animal medicine.

(Web editor, 13 July 2017)



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