Even if it is an important achievement from a biodiversity conservation perspective, the documented increase in abundance of the four native European wild Caprinae ( Rupicapra rupicapra, R. pyrenaica, Capra ibex, C. pyrenaica) can also be a matter of concern, since tighter and more frequent contact with sympatric livestock implies a greater risk of transmission of emerging and re-emerging pathogens. This article reviews the main transmissible diseases that, in a European scenario, are of greater significance from a conservation perspective. Epidemics causing major demographic downturns in wild Caprinae populations during recent decades were often triggered by pathogens transmitted at the livestock/wildlife interface.
Population density and distribution of the four native European wild Caprines ( Rupicapra rupicapra, Rupicapra pyrenaica, Capra ibex, Capra pyrenaica) have increased in recent decades. The improved conservation status of this valuable wildlife, while a welcome event in general terms, is at the same time a matter of concern since, intuitively, frequent and tighter contacts with sympatric livestock imply a greater risk of cross-transmission of emerging and re-emerging pathogens, and offer unexpected opportunities for pathogens to spread, persist and evolve. This article recalls the transmissible diseases that are perceived in Europe to be of major significance from a conservation perspective, namely brucellosis (BRC) by Brucella melitensis, infectious kerato-conjunctivitis (IKC) by Mycoplasma conjunctivae, pestivirosis (PV) by the border disease virus strain 4 and mange by Sarcoptes scabiei. Special emphasis has been put on the epidemiological role played by small domestic ruminants, and on key knowledge needed to implement evidence-based prevention and control strategies. Remarkably, scientific evidence demonstrates that major demographic downturns in affected wild Caprinae populations in recent decades have often been triggered by pathogens cross-transmitted at the livestock/wildlife interface.