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Mountain Gorillas and COVID-19

Mountain Gorillas and COVID-19

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, March 23, 2020/Categories: wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment, adventure

Gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos are our closest cousins sharing almost 98% of the same DNA. Humans and the great apes can be infected by many of the same pathogens, viruses, and other diseases.

It is estimated only 1000 of the Mountain Gorillas still remain in the East African nations of Uganda, the Congo, and Rwanda in protected mountain reserves like Virunga National Park. Ecotourism, to visit and observe the large apes, has helped save them from extinction and tourist revenues have provided the financial resources to train guides and wildlife officers. With the onset of the coronavirus COVID-19, the parks have taken measures to limit visitors to try and prevent the gorillas from contracting this serious respiratory disease, now a pandemic in China, Italy, Iran, France, Spain, and the USA.

The organization Gorilla Doctors, based at UC Davis in California, works to save mountain and lowland gorillas "one gorilla patient at a time". Their veterinary teams provide hands-on medical care to ill and injured gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The international vets say that the most effective measure for the preventing the introduction of the novel coronavirus (or any pathogen) is to minimize direct contact between gorillas and people who might be infected with the novel virus from visiting the national parks.

While everyone is concerned about their friends, family and neighbors, it is also important remembering other creatures who might not be immune to this coronavirus threat. Gorilla Doctors is doing their part but any individual or corporate donations is likely welcome and helpful to their efforts.

WHB

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