Gorilla Doctors

posted 7th August 2019 by Danica Wilson in Conservation

Saving a species one gorilla at a time

The Gorilla Doctors are dedicated to conserving wild mountain and eastern lowland gorillas through life-saving veterinary medicine and a One Health approach. There is an international team of veterinarians providing these critically endangered animals with direct, hands-on care in the wild.

Another role of Gorilla Doctors is to oversee the medical management of orphaned gorillas as a result of poaching. Right now there are four mountain gorilla orphans Ndeze, Ndakasi, Maisha, and Matabishi and one eastern lowland gorilla orphan, Kalonge, at Virunga National Park’s Senkwekwe Center.

Mountain gorillas live in central Africa, where an estimated 604 animals live in the Virunga Massif, which spans Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DRC, and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda. The other 400 mountain gorillas in the world live within the boundaries of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

The Gorilla Doctors also monitor the health of eastern lowland or Grauer’s gorillas that live in Kahuzi-Biega National Park and the Mt. Tshiabirimu area of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The number of Eastern Lowland gorillas remaining in the wild is difficult to estimate due to political instability in the region. Many believe the number sits under 10,000. This figure is down from tens of thousands as recently as the mid-1990s. The Gorilla Doctors veterinary team monitors and treats gorillas that are human-habituated—family groups that have grown accustomed to the presence of humans. About 73% of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif are habituated for tourism or research purposes, while only about 50% of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are habituated.

There are fewer than 100 habituated eastern lowland gorillas, all living in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Photos courtesy of Gorilla Doctors

What happens when a gorilla is saved from captivity or poaching?

Gorilla orphans saved from captivity or poaching will be taken to an interim care facility where Gorilla Doctors can evaluate the health and strength. The orphans often suffer from dehydration, malnutrition, mental distress and wounds. Treatment is provided and dedicated human caretakers are by their side 24 hours a day to help them to regain strength and recover physically and mentally.

Gorilla Doctors is a wonderful wildlife organisation that we are proud to support and encourage guests to do the same. You can donate or become an orphan Guardian.

More on their website.

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