CTPH Takes Measures to Mitigate COVID-19 Transmission in Bwindi

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CTPH Protects Gorillas and People by Taking Measures to Prevent COVID-19 Spread in Bwindi

CTPH co-founder and Chief Veterinary Technician Mr Stephen Rubanga demonstrating how to use a non contact infra red thermometer during sensitization of Gorilla Guardians/HUGOs

Greetings from Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)

We hope that you are well and coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

As the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our team is in Bwindi, sensitizing community volunteers, Gorilla Guardians on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 between people and from people to gorillas at Bwindi and Mgahinga Conservation Area.

Gorilla Guardians are community volunteers from the Human and Gorilla Conflict Resolution Teams (HUGOs) who are trained to safely chase gorillas back to the forest whenever they move out of the park to forage in people’s gardens where they like to eat banana plants and eucalyptus trees.

We currently have 119 Gorilla Guardians and are carrying out this sensitization in groups of 5 to adhere to national social distancing rules in this current situation of the coronavirus pandemic.

Uganda Wildlife Authority Community Conservation Warden, Ms Barbara Mugisha addressing the Gorilla Guardians/HUGOs during the sensitization

CTPH is conducting the Gorilla Guardians sensitization together with  Uganda Wildlife AuthorityMinistry of HealthKanungu and Kisoro District Health Offices and Bwindi Community Hospital, thanks to generous support from the Arcus Foundation.

This sensitization is very important because we have learnt that mountain gorillas have continued to venture out of the park to forage on community land, which puts them in danger of contracting COVID-19 and other zoonotic diseases transmissible between people and gorillas.

Habinyanja and Nkuringo gorilla groups, for example, were reported to be foraging in community land in late March and early April respectively, before Gorilla Guardians could be called to usher them back to the forest.

Thanks to your generous donations, we have been able to provide four non-contact infrared thermometers to Uganda Wildlife Authority to measure the temperature of the park staff before they enter the forest. Due to the high demand and large areas being covered, we are grateful to International Gorilla Conservation Programme for donating additional thermometers for the park staff of the Bwindi and Mgahinga Conservation Area

We are in urgent need of six infrared thermometers for Gorilla Guardians to use in each parish where gorillas come out of the park. If you are able to, please consider supporting the purchase of these additional thermometers which are making a big difference in and around Bwindi, ensuring anyone who has an elevated temperature is referred for further medical support and does not come into contact with the Gorillas or other people.

We are very grateful to Solidaridad, who have helped us to design and print posters in English and the local language to sensitize communities around Bwindi on issues related to COVID-19 including the need for regular hand washing, social distancing and covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, as well as, preventing disease transmission between people and gorillas.

During the sensitization, we have been able to provide each Gorilla Guardian and HUGO member with a reusable cloth mask, which they are proud to own, and has motivated them to work even harder to help prevent disease between people and gorillas, which is particularly important in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

We look forward to updating you next week, on our progress  in conducting similar sensitization with  the Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs)..

Please mark your calendar for the Wilson Center Virtual conference
CTPH Founder and CEO, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka will be speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center‘s virtual panel discussion  “Ground Truth Briefing | From the Arctic to Africa: Emerging Research on Human-to-Wildlife Transmission of COVID-19”

Happening May 1st, 2020 1:00pm – 2:00pm, US Eastern Standard Time,  RSVP here

Did you miss the recent virtual discussions where Dr. Gladys was a panelist?

On 22nd April 2020 (Earth Day), Ape Alliance hosted Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka and other expert panelists discussing the relationship between zoonotic diseases, specifically the current outbreak of COVID-19, and ape conservation. In case you missed it, please listen to the recording here.

On 23rd April 2020, The African Primatological Society (APS) convened a virtual panel discussing “The growing evidence of the links between biodiversity loss and the emergence of epidemics: implications for human wellbeing and the conservation of African Primates”, where Dr. Gladys was among the panelists. A recording of the proceedings is available here.

Thank you for the valuable feedback you gave on the two virtual panels last week. We look forward to your comments on this week’s virtual panel.

We would like to end by thanking you for all the great support

Stay Safe and healthy

From all of us at CTPH

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