Bezoar goats in Kurdistan, North Iraq
PPR the infectious disease of small ruminants (sheep and goat plague) in wild goats in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq
At the request of the Herman Institute (www.d-herman.com) we began work with a free-living population of wild goats (Capra aegagrus) in Barzan, Kurdistan in February 2011. There was no international information available regarding the population size of this species, which is classified as "vulnerable" on the Red List in Iraq. According to Fakher Ali Arif, Managing Director of the Herman Institute, the population size in the Barzan region is around 5000 to 10000 animals. Several hundred wild goats had perished since summer 2010. After taking samples from ill animals, the suspicion of an infection with the PPR virus was confirmed at the Friedrich-Löffler Institute on the Isle of Riems. The partial genome sequencing of field samples and the PPR vaccine used for pets proved that the wild goats had been wild-type infected with a strain of virus which is closely related to the PPRV strain "Turkey 2000". The lack of clinical symptoms in the domestic goat population living sympatrically in this area suggests that the PPRV vaccines from Jordan, which have been put to use, do function and protect the animals at least against clinical disease. Moreover, we advised the Herman Institute to register the Barzan region as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in order to ensure the long-term international protection of the flora and fauna endemic to this region, which includes brown bears, wolfs and leopards. The managing director of the Herman Institute, Fakher Arif, and his assistant came to Germany in July 2011 and 2012 to consolidate the cooperation and consider the ways and means a documentary might be put together in collaboration with Bavarian Television. They also wished to become acquainted with German institutions and nature reserves. We will support them in establishing the UNESCO biosphere reserve.