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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

Research into surrogate milk important to wildlife conservation
2017-05-08

Description: Prof Garry Osthoff  Tags: Prof Garry Osthoff

Prof Gary Osthoff from the UFS Department of
Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology,
will soon work on a milk formula for elephants.
Photo: Supplied

Research is being done at the University of the Free State (UFS) to analyse and synthetically imitate the unique milk of various wildlife species. This research is not only of scientific value, but also serves the conservation of South Africa’s wildlife species. At the forefront of this research is Prof Garry Osthoff from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.

Orphaned rhino calf pulled through with surrogate milk

“There is still a lot of research to be done. Naturally the research is of scientific importance, but with surrogate milk having the same composition as the mother’s milk of a specific species, orphaned calves or cubs of that species could be pulled through during a difficult time of weaning. Bearing in mind that exotic animals fetch thousands and even millions of rands at auctions, it goes without saying a game farmer will do everything possible to provide only the best nourishment to such an orphaned animal. In such a case, synthetically-manufactured milk would be the right choice,” says Prof Osthoff.

The fruits of his research were recently demonstrated in Germany when a rhino calf was left orphaned in the Leipzig Zoo. Prof Osthoff’s article: “Milk composition of a free-ranging white rhinoceros during late lactation” was used as a directive for applying surrogate milk for horse foals (which is already commercially available), since the composition of horse and rhino milk largely corresponds. The surrogate milk was used with great success and the rhino calf is flourishing. He mentions that such an orphan is often given the wrong nourishment with the best intentions, resulting in the starvation of the animal despite the amount of cow’s milk it devours.

With surrogate milk having the same
composition as the mother’s milk of a
specific species, orphaned calves or
cubs of that species could be pulled
through during the difficult time
of weaning.

Milk formula for baby elephants in the pipeline
With baby elephants left orphaned due to the increase in elephant poaching for their ivory, several attempts have been made to create a milk formula in order to feed these elephants. To date, many elephants have died in captivity from side effects such as diarrhoea as a result of the surrogate formula which they were fed.

Prof Osthoff recently received a consignment of frozen milk which he, together with researchers from Zimbabwe, will use to work on a milk formula for elephants. They are studying the milk in a full lactation period of two years. During lactation, the composition of the milk changes to such an extent that a single surrogate formula will not be sufficient. Four different formulas should probably be designed.

Prof Osthoff says that of the different species he has researched, elephants are the most interesting and deviate most from the known species.

Although his research to develop surrogate milk is adding much value to the wildlife industry, and although he finds this part of his work very exciting, his research focus is on food science and nutrition. “What is currently authentic in milk research is the study of the fat globules with content, the structure and composition of the casein micelle, and the prebiotic sugars. The knowledge which is gained helps to improve the processing, development of new food products, and development of food products for health purposes,” says Prof Osthoff.

 

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