Ranger Guides Training to Protect Great Apes from Disease

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Group photo after training rangers at Mgahinga National Park

Greetings from Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH).

During the month of April, we successfully trained 102 Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) ranger guides across all the gorilla trekking sites of Bwindi and Mgahinga Conservation Area.

The training mainly focused on empowering ranger guides to educate national and international tourists about the great ape viewing rules before, during and after gorilla tracking, with an emphasis on minimizing the heightened risk of disease transmission between people and great apes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With funding from the Darwin InitiativeCTPH worked with The University of ExeterInstitute for Biodiversity and Protected AreasRobert Koch InstituteBristol Zoological Society and the IUCN Primate Specialist COVID-19 Working Group section on Great Apes to collaboratively create education materials and training packs for the 33 great ape tourism sites in Africa to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19.

CTPH Co-Founder and Chief Veterinary Technician, Stephen Rubanga giving a presentation to rangers

The training also talked about the benefits of vaccinating against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination reduces the spread of the virus amongst people and from people to mountain gorillas. CTPH successfully advocated for park staff and other conservation personnel working with gorillas and chimpanzees to be in the priority groups to be vaccinated once the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived Uganda in March. This training enabled the rangers to educate others about the benefits of the vaccine to prevent severe COVID.

Ranger guides were not only equipped with up-to-date knowledge on tourism management and how to mitigate the risk of infectious disease transmission such as COVID-19 to wild great apes, but also empowered with the necessary skills to inform and enforce this knowledge.

Ahwera Isaac, Medical Clinical Officer- Bwindi Community Hospital, giving a presentation to rangers about Covid-19

“The training will give confidence to the rangers to talk to tourists about how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 from humans to gorillas, hence promoting responsible tourism,” said Stephen Rubanga, CTPH Co Founder and Chief Veterinary Technician, who led the training in the field.

We greatly thank all our partners in training the rangers and developing the education campaign and the Darwin Initiative for funding these activities during this critical time of the pandemic.

Please visit www.protectgreatapesfromdisease.com for more information and regular updates on the campaign, and consider making a pledge that you too will protect great apes from disease.

We wish you a great, safe and healthy week.

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