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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(6)

Long-term efficacy of levonorgestrel implants for fertility control of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus)

Graeme Coulson A C, Christopher D. Nave A B, Geoff Shaw A, Marilyn B. Renfree A

A Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.
B Current address: Baker Heart Research Institute, Prahran, Vic. 3181, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: gcoulson@unimelb.edu.au
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Overabundant populations of kangaroos pose substantial management problems in small parks on the fringe of urban areas in Australia. Translocation is impractical and culling is often not publicly acceptable, but fertility control offers an acceptable alternative. One potential contraceptive is levonorgestrel, which provides effective long-term contraception in women, and prevents births in some marsupials for up to five years. We evaluated the long-term efficacy of levonorgestrel in free-ranging eastern grey kangaroos (M. giganteus) at two sites in Victoria, Australia. We trapped 25 adult females at one site (Portland Aluminium), treating 18 with two subcutaneous 70-mg levonorgestrel implants and seven with control (inert) implants. We darted 25 adult females at the other site (Woodlands Historic Park), treating all with two 70-mg levonorgestrel implants. We monitored the reproductive status of the kangaroos, as indicated by the obvious presence of a pouch young, in spring each year for up to seven years. In the first three years at Portland, 81–86% of levonorgestrel-treated females were infertile, compared with 12–29% in the control group, but the effectiveness of fertility control declined over time. At this site, the proportions of treated females breeding in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh years of the trial were 36%, 50%, 67% and 100% respectively. Fecundity at Woodlands was similar. Although this protocol achieved fertility control for several years, it was likely that more than one treatment or a higher dose rate would be required for effective fertility control in this long-lived species.

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