Conservation is rooted in earning the support of the local communities who share a backyard with some of the most biodiverse wildlife in the world. Many of the most isolated and impoverished families live around protected areas in Africa—their lifestyles imposing an imminent threat to the survival of wildlife and habitats and eventually, themselves. Land encroachment, competition for food, and the spread of zoonotic disease between people, wildlife and livestock are all grim everyday realities.
In 1996, the first scabies outbreak in the gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, resulted in the death of an infant gorilla and the rest of the gorilla group recovered with Ivermectin treatment. The fatal disease was traced back to the local communities living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. A few years later in 2001 and 2002, another scabies outbreak occurred, fortunately there were no deaths because the gorillas were treated soon enough.
Mountain gorillas are endangered and with only 1,000 remaining in the wild, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka asked herself how their extinction could be prevented. What resulted was the founding of Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) with other concerned Ugandans. CTPH is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with an innovative methodology that focuses on the interdependence of wildlife and human health in and around Africa’s protected areas. CTPH has three integrated strategic programs: Wildlife Conservation, Community Health and Alternative Livelihoods. Poverty alleviation and improving rural public health will contribute to greater biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in and around Africa’s protected areas.