Recovering Key Species for Ecosystem Restoration on this #WorldWildlifeDay!

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Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Photo by Kibuuka Mukisa/UNEP

Today, on 3rd March, we are celebrating World Wildlife Day, designated by the United Nations to remind us of the critical importance of protecting and conserving our wildlife. The theme for this year is “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration.”

Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) has been striving for the last 19 years to conserve and restore a key species – mountain gorillas – that were critically endangered until just four years ago. Although there are still only 1063 mountain gorillas in the wild, due to sustained conservation efforts, their population has grown considerably from less than 700 in the late 1990s.

Nevertheless, mountain gorillas still face major threats to survival including from poaching, habitat degradation, human-wildlife conflict and zoonotic diseases, with COVID-19 presenting the greatest zoonotic threat at present. Gorillas share 98.4% DNA with human beings, making them highly susceptible to COVID-19 and other diseases.

Maraya, lead silverback of Mubare group in Bwindi Impenetrable Natioanla Park. Photo by Nick Penny

CTPH is working tirelessly to curb the spread of COVID-19 from people to mountain gorillas and among communities bordering Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Samples from 200 gorillas were collected and tested, thankfully, all negative for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We have also conducted preventive measures through training 258 Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs), 119 Gorilla Guardians (HUGOs), 263 Uganda Wildlife Authority park staff and establishing 59 COVID-19 Village Task Force Committees (479 members) in 8 parishes bordering Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These groups of community members and leaders were trained on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the community and from people to mountain gorillas.

In order to address the increasing poverty, hunger and desperation following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the killing of Rafiki, lead silverback of Nkuringo group, CTPH developed a “Ready to Grow” garden project to support nutritional resilience. “Ready to Grow” gardens comprise a package of 10 low maintenance food crop seedlings that need little space and provide food within a short period of time (1 to 3 months). The project was implemented in the Northern and Eastern sectors of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, benefiting 2,500 community members.

This year, we will be celebrating #WorldWildlifeDay at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe – where we are on the organising committee. The event will be attended by key partners and other NGOs with H.E Jessica Alupo, Vice President of Uganda, as the Guest of Honour.

World Wildlife Day celebrations at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe

We are excited to be exhibiting amazing Gorilla Conservation Coffee products at the event. Treat yourself AND make a difference by stopping by to buy your award-winning Kanyonyi Coffee. You can also order #KanyonyiCoffee from a supplier near you to help us continue saving the majestic mountain gorillas.

Make a difference today! Spread the word about #WorldWildlifeDay. Post on social media about your love for wildlife and why we need to conserve it.

Happy World Wildlife Day! Thank you very much for your support.

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