Photo Credit: Conservation Through Public Health

Protecting Endangered mountain gorillas during the COVID-19 pandemic

26.01.2021

CONSERVATION PROBLEM

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 43% of the remaining 1063 free-ranging mountain gorillas in the world. It is also a habitat that is increasingly threatened by poaching, fragmentation and human intrusion. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has only worsened the existence of this Endangered species.

If COVID-19 were to infect the park’s gorilla population, it would have the same effect, or more severe, as in humans. The resulting fallout could wipe out almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas that reside in the park. Furthermore, COVID-19 has intensified the threats caused by humans such as poaching and firewood collection. The collapse of the tourism industry caused by the pandemic has led to greater poverty and desperation.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  • Increase the number of humans and gorillas tested for COVID-19 by 30%
  • Increase surveillance and reduce illegal forest activities;
  • Increase organisational capacity to address COVID-19 related risks posed to mountain gorillas.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES

  • Conduct fecal testing in at least 200 habituated mountain gorillas for COVID-19 and other viral pathogens;
  • Conduct fecal testing of at least 130 humans that are most likely to come in contact with the gorillas;
  • Train 119 Gorilla Guardians and 300 park staff in COVID-19 prevention and gorilla health monitoring;
  • Conduct awareness-raising sessions with 30,000 community members on conservation and the importance of protecting gorillas;


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