15th OVAG Workshop, 23-27 July 2023 in Bali and Online: Expanding our Network and Caring for Ourselves

By Siska Sulistyo

03 August 2023 |Updated: 03 August 2023

Thank you to all participants, speakers, collaborators, donors, and committees for another successful hybrid workshop in 2023!

The Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG) Workshop 2023 is an annual event that brought together veterinarians and wildlife conservationists from around the world to connect and share their knowledge on various health and conservation aspects of the orangutan and gibbon species. Conducted in Bali, Indonesia, on 23-27 July 2023, this 5-day workshop not only provided an enriching learning experience but also offered participants the chance to reunite with old friends, establish new connections, and look up new opportunities for further professional developments.

This year, the workshop was again presented in a hybrid mode. Seventy people were joining in person at the Prime Plaza Hotel Sanur, Bali, and 75 more joined online from across the globe. We have had participants tuning in from the UK, US, South Africa, Australia, but the majority joining in from their rehabilitation centres in Sumatra and Borneo.

This year’s workshop covered essential topics ranging from orangutans and gibbons’ behaviour ecology, ape’s reintroduction assessment, wildlife disease surveillance, wildlife forensic, to clinical topics of primate anaesthesia and dentistry. Practitioners and experts in various fields all got the chance to share their perspectives and learn from each other. A curated modules from this year’s workshop will be uploaded soon in our OVAG CPD Canvas (provided by the University of Minnesota) and will be accessible to in-person participants and past attendees.

Apart from the scientific side of the spectrum, the workshop incorporated mindfulness sessions that encouraged participants to do reflection and grounding practices. Half of the last day of the workshop was dedicated to discuss topics of self- care, resilience, and managing difficult conversations. These mindfulness exercises and sessions reminded attendees that in order to perform their work better, they need to take care of themselves, as well as the team who work with them.

This year’s workshop is sponsored by our loyal donors: The Orangutan Conservancy (main donor and founder), Chester Zoo, Arcus Foundation, Fort Wayne’s Children Zoo, The Orangutan Project, and Wildlife Health Australia. This workshop is also in partnership with Asliqewan (Indonesia Wildlife Veterinary Association), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gadjah Mada University, and WOAH (World Organization for Animal Health).

Overall, we were pretty sure that this year’s workshop has again fulfilled its purpose. OVAG provides a unique opportunity for veterinarians and conservationists to come together and build collaborative partnerships. Beyond the meeting room, the workshop fosters trust among participants, and when the trust is gained, then the actual work can begin.

On behalf of the OVAG Committee, we thank you all participants and speakers. We truly appreciate that you have invested your time, energy, money, and expertise to participate in this collaborative capacity building. Finally, we look forward to seeing everyone again next year!!