Wildlife Health Monitoring

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Stephen and Hilary in the Gorilla ClinicCTPH established an early warning system for disease outbreaks through wildlife fecal sample collection and analysis. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park CTPH has trained rangers, trackers, field assistants, and community volunteers in gorilla health monitoring through recognizing clinical signs in gorillas and collecting fecal samples from night nests and fresh trails. Samples are analyzed at the Gorilla Research Clinic, which also serves as a veterinary clinic for other animals in the area.

Weekly mountain gorilla fecal samples are collected by park trackers and rangers and community volunteers from the Human and Gorilla Conflict Resolution (HUGO) team when gorillas forage in community land. The samples are analyzed for pathogens (parasites, bacteria and other disease causing organisms) at the Gorilla Research Clinic, where results are shared with local health clinics.

In Queen Elizabeth National Park, rangers and research assistants are trained to recognize and report clinical signs in the wildlife, and to collect blood smears and other tissue samples from animals that they find dead in the course of their daily work. This is enabling the early detection of fatal diseases, such as anthrax and prevents further spread within the park. Another component is disease surveillance to detect infection rates and trends of diseases that spread between wildlife, livestock and people where a certain number of wild animals are tested for Tuberculosis (TB), brucellosis, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) among others. Results are used to aid better management of the wildlife and livestock in and around the national park.


  • Training 170 Uganda Wildlife Authority Park Rangers in gorilla and other wildlife health monitoring.
  • Training 90 HUGO members in gorilla health monitoring .
  • Analyzing more than 4,000 faecal samples from mountain gorillas looking for harmful pathogens and creating a baseline understanding of gorilla health.
  • Launching research efforts of savannah animals by collecting blood samples and evaluating disease threats in more than 50 Cape buffalo and more than 100 cattle bordering Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Strategic Direction:

Improve the quality and quantity of data collected in the wildlife/livestock monitoring program and develop mechanisms for information sharing with the human health community.

Current Projects:

  1. Expansion of gorilla fecal sample analysis tests from parasitological to bacteriology and measurement of stress
  2. Expansion of the Gorilla Research Clinic to accommodate the growing number of tests and become a regional centre of excellence
  3. HUGO community volunteer training workshops
  4. UWA park staff training workshops
  5. Training QENP research assistants in laboratory analysis of anthrax and other diseases


MacArthur Foundation
Whitley Fund for Nature / World Wildlife Fund
USAID/Prime West / AWF
Zoological Society of London
Bayer Pharmaceuticals


Uganda Wildlife Authority
Cornell University
The Gorilla Organization
Gorilla Haven
Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project
Colgate University
Robert Koch Institute
Vets Without Borders
Coca Cola

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